Social entrepreneurship is an emerging trend within both the business and nonprofit worlds. As a colleague of mine who teaches social entrepreneurship explains it, it's "doing good while doing well" - using business skills and tactics to solve social problems and generate revenue for charitable purposes. There are a variety of examples of what falls under the umbrella of social entrepreneurship, everything from microlender Kiva to shoe-retailer TOMS to solar lamp manufacturer KARIBU. The Ashoka Foundation is a great place to learn more about social entrepreneurship for those who are interested.
Now, it seems, United Methodist Women in Cote d'Ivoire are getting in on the game. United Methodist News Service published an article recently on how members of the UMW in Cote d'Ivoire are partnering with social entrepreneur mobile phone company Pubcell CI to earn money for the UMW. Members sign up for the mobile phone service, which then shares revenue from ads that are displayed on users' phones.
The UMW is looking to take the money it has earned and turn around and invest it in additional social entrepreneurial endeavors. The UMW is using the money earned from Pubcell plus an additional $1,000 grant from Pubcell to support women who want to start business endeavors to provide a source of income so that they can lift themselves out of poverty.
A couple of generations ago, missions-led development in Africa looked like Western experts coming in to plan and execute large-scale infrastructure projects. This story, though, represents the future of mission-led development in Africa: African women banding together to conduct their own small-scale social entrepreneurship projects.