I have been engaged in a discussion with Mark Hecker on the blog Unsectored. Mark is the founder and Executive Director of Reach Incorporated. Mark's article which prompted the exchange in the comments is titled "Falling for the New Language of Social Good".
Mark advocates in the story and comments for a role for non-profits in social ventures. I, on the other hand, believe that commercial activities can address most social issues. There are certain risks too big for the for-profit sector, but all other projects should be the domain of entrepreneurs. Mark's concern is that many social sectors will be ignored by for-profit organizations. My response to this concern is below:
"When you consider risk, which is where this discussion began, one must also consider economic return. To address the unserved sectors, where the risk is perceived as too high, we must look for agents who will accept lower returns. Social entrepreneurs, by definition, fit this risk-return profile and should be the agents identifying and serving these unserved sectors. With their success economically and socially they will demonstrate that the risks were not as high as perceived and thereby attract traditional capitalists to what will then be considered markets. At that point, the unserved sectors will start to disappear."
Similar to the Becker Posner blog on economics, I think Mark and I should start a blog called Hacker-Hecker to discuss the two sides of social issues. If we could find a Mr. Hocker, then we would add the government view. Hacker-Hecker-Hocker. I think it has a real ring to it.
Note: While Mark and I have philosophical differences, I really like the Reach focus on education in urban settings.
Other posts on social entrepreneurship are here.