CASE Goes Global: Dees in China

From our location in Durham, North Carolina, CASE has the best of both worlds.

On a daily basis we get to engage with our local community – an incredibly active and vibrant group of social innovators.  The Research Triangle area is full of innovative nonprofits such as TROSA (a residential substance abuse recovery program that teaches residents leadership and job skills through earned income ventures); Self-Help (a community development lender, credit union, and real estate developer that works with underserved communities) and Bull City Forward (a community-based effort focused on increasing the creation, scale, and impact of social enterprises in Durham, NC).  Not to mention the many for-profit innovators including Burt’s Bees and The Redwoods Group – both part of the growing B Corporation community.  And that is just to name a few of the local organizations that our students engage with, our alums work at, and we are continuously inspired by.

Of course, our engagement and impact don’t stop at the borders of North Carolina, or even of the United States. CASE is housed within a globally-connected university and that global lens permeates everything that we do.  The Fuqua School of Business is becoming a truly global business school, actively embedding within economic and cultural hubs around the world, including China, India, Russia, UAE, UK, and South Africa.  From CASE’s perspective, we use that global lens to advance our research and teaching – we think about the factors that underlie global poverty, how to scale innovations in different countries, how policy or business contexts around the world impact the growth of social entrepreneurship, and many other issues.  We believe strongly in the power of social entrepreneurship to help solve global issues.

With that perspective in mind, CASE Founder Greg Dees recently traveled to Beijing, China to speak at the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the 21st Century News Group. Professor Dees spoke about the “golden opportunity for China to show global leadership in social entrepreneurship”.

You can read a longer version of Dees’ remarks here(or watch the video online), but we wanted to share some of Dees’ key points here on our blog:

  • Societies are bound to have problems that cannot be solved by governments alone.  Social entrepreneurs are well suited to help these societies adapt and come up with resourceful, innovative solutions.
  • Dees provides a wide-range of examples of social entrepreneurs creating innovative, resourceful solutions to achieve social impact. These examples illustrate that social entrepreneurs are flexible, quick to respond, can work together (or with private sector or government), and have the ability to experiment, serving as learning laboratories for society.
  • However, in order for social entrepreneurs to play that role, a supportive environment must be created.  If China is to become a global leader in social entrepreneurship, China’s leaders must create an environment in which there is supportive public policy, access to financial resources, deep talent pipelines, strong cultural understanding and acceptance of social entrepreneurship, and opportunities/institutions supporting capacity building.
  • Although the concept of social entrepreneurship is new in China, Dees believes that China is well-placed to take a leadership role.  He states that China can use the same drive, skills, and capabilities that they leveraged in their rapid economic expansion, to improve society and “cross the bridge from rising prosperity towards more inclusive growth and greater harmony”.

China’s potential to take advantage of this “golden opportunity” and play a leadership role in social entrepreneurship is truly exciting.  We look forward to working with, and learning from, the innovators, academics, thought leaders, and others in China to continue to build the field together.

A longer version of Dees’ remarks is available here; video of presentation also available online.