Case Western Reserve University Professor Michael Goldberg posted a Huffington Post blog today reflecting on his teaching time with the Social Entrepreneur Bootcamp in South Africa that was founded by YALI fellow Irene Chikumbo.
His blog describes the impact on the young entrepreneurs who completed his class assignment to interview potential customers and collaborators about their product. This simple exercise created a shift of focus and/or strategy in each of the students.
Two of the student comments illustrate the tension between good business and social mission in social enterprises. Collin Nyamadzawo was surprised to find that his business collaborators were motivated by “feel[ing] like they were a part of something greater than themselves.” Simultaneously, Chembo Litana’s conversations emphasized for her that “My product should be good enough to be bought even without the social story. The social story should be icing on the cake or a convincing factor.”
Bottomline, staying in communication with the people who will use or source your product is always good business.