This New York Times article is about D.Lite which produces solar-powered lamps to replace the dangerous and inefficient kerosene lamps that have been the primary source of light for many people in the third world. The D.Lite story is fascinating and inspiring and traces the classic journey of a visionary entrepreneur who experiences a critical social problem and develops a brilliant solution. But, the article goes beyond this story to sketch the outline of a new class of “social entrepreneurs,” AND importantly, to discuss how they build their ideas into viable businesses.
The article focuses on that pivotal point in the process of developing a business: figuring out how to fund it. There are many factors and forces at play here including time, control, amount of money, and level of risk. In the D.Lite article, there is an emphasis on the choice between the for-profit and non-profit models.
I hope to write more about this funding dilemma in the future—it is a critically important issue for new business ventures. In the meantime, read on and, please, post your comments.
And thanks again to Susan Bernstein for linking me to this great story (keep them coming, Susan).