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Welcome to CBS Social Enterprise Conference 2009

I recently heard a prominent social enterprise consultant say that social responsibility is as basic to American business as double-entry accounting. If only it were so. Itrsquo;s certainly possible to do some good for the world and make money (or at least break even) at the same time ndash; we have no shortage of inspirational examples that range from entrepreneurial not-for-profits to socially-minded business entrepreneurs. (Sadly lots of companies also make plenty of money paying bribes dumping sludge in rivers or simply pursuing profits with indifference to social needs.)

We need to move beyond the recognition that sustainable enterprises can exist to understanding the trade-offs that do exist in the world of social-enterprise practice. (In serving low income customers for example there is a very obvious trade-off in deciding how low to set prices.) How given economic constraints can we maximize impact on society and in the marketplace

Social enterprise has matured as a field ndash; itrsquo;s no longer an innovation to bring good business practice to a social cause or integrate social concerns into corporate decisions. The leading social entrepreneurs of today often bring new perspectives to age-old problems ndash; connecting financial incentives to curbside recycling; aiding micro-entrepreneurs via mobile applications. The social enterprise leaders of the future truly represent both social and business innovation.

Our conference will bring those at the vanguard of this movement together to try to understand what has created social value and financial success ndash; and what has led to failure. How operations have successfully scaled up ndash; and the growing pains they have encountered. We will develop a better framework for what works in social enterprise by looking at those who practice it best

Prof. Raymond Fisman

Lambert Family Professor of Social Enterprise