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10 Lessons From 10 Years as a Social Entrepreneur

Ten years ago, I shipped the world’s first fair-trade avocados from small-scale farmers in Mexico to Europe — and my social enterprise was born.

At the time, I’d never heard of a “social entrepreneur”. I just wanted to use my business skills to help small-scale farmers transform their lives. Now, I identify as a social entrepreneur down to my bones, and my enterprise has scaled around the globe and impacted thousands of farmers in many countries.

Our mission is far from complete, but the anniversary is an occasion to reflect on the keys lessons learned during 10 life-changing years.

1. Be the change. Social entrepreneurship isn’t just a new approach to business. It’s a way of life. We won’t effect meaningful change in the world around us without constantly questioning and challenging ourselves to live and be better — every moment of every day.

2. Only do what’s win-win. Self-interest is out. We must constantly see the world from the perspectives of multiple stakeholders, both in our regular, day-to-day lives and in our business and development decisions, seeking not what will benefit us the most, but what will most benefit the world as a whole. To do this requires empathy — one of a social entrepreneur’s most crucial assets.

3. Have clarity about your mission and values. Having clarity about our mission and values is extraordinarily powerful. Every time we act according to our values, they become clearer within us and attract like-minded partners and new opportunities.

4. Use the market as the engine for positive change. As social entrepreneurs, it’s our task to harness market forces in ways that generate positive change. To do so, we must be innovative with our business-and-development models, understanding that the best of intentions are meaningless if we can’t build a sustainable and scalable structure to fulfill them…


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