Adlai Wertman Presents: "Can Business Models Save the World?"
Sustainable Organizations Making Sustainable Change
A growing number of entrepreneurs are applying their know-how to help support social issues in the nonprofit sector by using the business model of the for-profit sector. This important topic was the basis for a recent Foundation presentation by Foundation trustee Adlai Wertman, a professor of clinical management and organization at USC's Marshall School of Business. These new hybrid organizations "look and smell like businesses" but have a social mission, first and foremost. Instead of working to maximize monetary returns like traditional for-profit companies, they're run by businesspeople that seek to maximize a social return on investment, in areas such as the environment and health.
Wertman, a member of The Foundation's Cutting Edge Grants Committee, spoke about several successful examples of social enterprises, including recent Foundation Cutting Edge Grant recipient, Beit T'Shuvah, a substance-abuse recovery organization. Their innovative program, BTS Communications, is run like a business, and provides custom-designed marketing communications services to Jewish nonprofits. At the same time, the program addresses the important social issue of training those in recovery with skills to get a job. The agency itself is set up as an internship program whereby the interns - all Beit T'Shuvah residents - are trained in practical skills to enter a new career, while maintaining sobriety.
Wertman encouraged the audience to move towards becoming social entrepreneurs themselves. "Think about the problem you're here to solve and bring your whole self-your business and life experience, your education-in creative, new ways to address the problem you're looking to solve," he said.