Social Entrepreneurs Face Tough Challenges in the Digital World

For digital ventures whose mission does not include profit, the challenges to thrive range from the hurdles of regulation to the scale of their impact, a panel of social entrepreneurs in the digital world agreed.

Led by The Economist's Matthew Bishop, the discussion at DLD highlighted the need for better and more extense infrastructure available to social entrepreneurs, who face tight budgets and resources.

"There is no functioning infrastructure that supports entrepreneurs out there", said Konstanze Frischen, founding member of the German chapter of Ashoka, an international organization that identifies and supports leaders working for positive change.

Digital technology gets outdated very fast and social entrepreneurs who don’t work for a profit would benefit greatly from a consortium of companies who could provide their technical expertise for free, she said.

Another barrier in many countries is regulation, as more and more social enterprises have naturally morphed into a hybrid, part for-profit and part not-for-profit while most governments today demand that you register the company as either, or, said Rodrigo Baggio, creator of the Center for Digital Inclusion in Latin America. His enterprise trains and educates people of all ages in the poorest areas in eight countries and gives them the skills to identify problems faced in their communities and solve them.

Also part of the discussion panel were Frank Rosenberger, Chief Marketing Executive and Member of Managing Board of Vodafone Germany who spoke about the company’s not-for-profit project M-Pesa; Casey Fenton, the original founder of CouchSurfing, a website that connects three and a half million people who look to travel and meet like-minded people; and Naif Al-Mutawa, founder of The 99,  an animation project that looks to create new superhero figures to function as role models from children all around the world.

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DLD2011 - The Big Picture DLD (Digital-Life-Design) is a global conference network on innovation, digital media, science and culture which connects business, creative and social leaders, opinion-formers and investors for crossover conversation and inspiration. Chairmen of DLD are publisher Hubert Burda and serial digital investor Yossi Vardi. DLD has been founded by Stephanie Czerny and Marcel Reichart in 2005.

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