Greed's No Longer Good In Enterprise

Last Updated Nov 20, 2008 2:54 PM EST

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Social enterprise ventures are taking the brass ring at traditional business awards, with Global Ethics and One Water founder Duncan Goose scooping the top entrepreneur prize at the National Business Awards this week.

Goose -- a former board member at media giant WPP -- launched the One Water brand, whose returns are reinvested in installing clean-water systems in southern Africa.

Like many traditional entrepreneurs, Goose's business started out as an evenings-and-weekends project. But unlike for-profit models, he's less interested in market share than lives changed.

The social enterprise models, though, have wider appeal to employees generally. Earlier this year, the Work Foundation published a report on the importance of meaningful work. And recent research by recruitment site Crone Corkill found that 44 per cent of job candidates believe it's a priority to find employers who 'give something back' to the community.

Supporters also reckon all businesses can include an element of social enterprise in their model. Volans founders Pamela Hartigan and John Elkington outline different business models in their book, The Power of Unreasonable People . In the social business, investors can expect some financial return alongside the social one -- it's just less of a priority.

In a speech earlier this year, Belu Water's Reed Paget predicted the next dotcom-style boom would "involve businesses that put people and the planet before profits and will end up being more profitable as a result. Whether a capitalist or an environmentalist, sustainability makes sense."

(Image: dmax3270, CC2.0)