Why Social Entrepreneurs Could Use a Little More Faith
As your average Fast Company subscribing, TED Talks-watching, New York Times reading, SXSW obsessed pop culture junkie, I know a few things about social innovation. Having followed the game-changing efforts of TOMs Shoes, Kiva, Kickstarter and Warby Parker, it's easy to think of social innovation and entrepreneurship as a secular thing. A recent Southern California Faith-Based Social Innovation Forum showed though that when it comes to collaboration with faith-based social entrepreneurs, there's plenty of room for growth.
The forum, held in Los Angeles and co-hosted by Jewish Jumpstart, and Community Partners, was organized on the heels of this summer's White House Faith-Based Social Innovators Conference. Jumpstart co-founder and CEO Shawn Landres attended the White House summit and saw an opportunity to inspire local change. He and fellow White House guest Paul Vandeventer, head of Community Partners, began working on the idea of a regional follow-up.
The L.A. forum sought to answer several big questions. Why the distinction between regular, or secular social innovation and its faith-based cousin if both are focused on doing good works? Are faith-based social innovators at a disadvantage? Who are the major players in the world of faith-based social innovation? Can social innovators work across faith and learn to share best practices?
"Faith-based innovators are creating new products and services, forging strategic and creative partnerships, and leveraging media and technology to extend their reach," says Jonathan Greenblatt, the director of the White House office of social innovation and civic participation. "Their models vary, but these individuals all use innovation to improve their communities."
Social entrepreneurs—both secular and religious—have more in common than they may realize, says Vandeventer. "The values that inform secular civic innovators—loving justice, caring for the disadvantaged, bridging differences—come from same concerns about the condition of the world as those that inform faith-based innovators," he says.