Read a story about social entrepreneurship – such as Kiva, Terracycle, Teach for America – and one might think, “Great, but I could never do that.”
In that case, the next Mohler Lecture speaker at McPherson College – Dr. Brett Smith – is coming with both good and bad news for you, “You’re mistaken.”
“Often we really do have the power to change the world,” Dr. Smith said, “but we don’t mobilize it, we don’t take advantage of it.”
Dr. Smith is professor of entrepreneurship at Miami University in Ohio and the founding director at the Center for Social Entrepreneurship, which focuses on experiential learning opportunities for Miami University students to develop innovate ways of solving social problems.
He will present “The Democratization of Social Entrepreneurship” for the 42nd annual Mohler Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 in Mingenback Theatre. In addition to his public lecture, Dr. Smith will also meet with McPherson College faculty to working in entrepreneurship as well as with classes that support the minor in transformative entrepreneurship at MC.
Dr. Smith said that social entrepreneurship is creating innovative solutions to social problems and is critical for filling in the social gaps where for-profit businesses and government organizations aren’t able to help. He hopes that those who attend his lecture will gain an awareness of social entrepreneurship and come to believe that they, too, can improve society. Ensuring that everyone has the tools they need for social entrepreneurship is what he means by “democratization.”
In his lecture, he will discuss some of the barriers that still remain to this democratization of social entrepreneurship. These include self-doubt of potential social entrepreneurs, the relatively new advent of the discipline in academics, how to measure the social value of a venture, and where to find growth-level funding for social entrepreneurship.
“Social entrepreneurship has exploded on the scene, but I think there are some big challenges that remain,” Dr. Smith said. “While there has been excitement and enthusiasm, there are significant challenges that remain.”
But he’s optimistic about the future of social entrepreneurship.
“I think it’s early. I think it’s encouraging,” he said, “and I think there’s a bright future ahead.”
For 42 years, the generosity of Dr. Robert and Mrs. Fern Shoemaker Mohler has brought prominent speakers and cultural programs to McPherson College – spanning academic disciplines and representing a wide range of human experience and thinking.
The first lecture in 1975 highlighted MC professor Dr. H.H. Nininger, famous for his work on meteorites and paleontology. In addition to providing information about Dr. Nininger’s lifetime of knowledge in meteorites, it also functioned as a 90th birthday party for both Dr. Nininger – the first speaker of the lecture series – and Dr. Moher – one of the lecture’s two benefactors.
The lecture is supported by permanent funds from the Mohler’s initial gifts as well as additional funding provided by their children and grandchildren. Those monies are now held in the McPherson College endowment, meaning that the Mohler lecture will continue to bring great speakers to McPherson College for years to come.