Business

Social entrepreneurship needs a new business model, says this global thinker

Robert Hacker, who teaches social entrepreneurship courses at FIU’s Honors College and MIT’s Sloan School, speaks about social entrepreneurship at a Global Ties Miami talk.
Robert Hacker, who teaches social entrepreneurship courses at FIU’s Honors College and MIT’s Sloan School, speaks about social entrepreneurship at a Global Ties Miami talk. abordas@miamiherald.com

Robert Hacker doesn’t care much for the business model of non-profit organizations. He doesn’t believe that begging for money is a sustainable practice and yet he vehemently pushes entrepreneurs to be a part of the social movement.

Hacker fears for the future of the world if the world’s richest, most successful and most innovative don’t change their business plans to include social responsibility.

“You’re not building a company,” said Hacker, who teaches social entrepreneurship courses at FIU’s Honors College and MIT’s Sloan School. “You are building a movement. We need to balance social goals and redefine capitalism.”

Hacker strikes an interesting balance that is not typical of most business tycoons — he cares just as much about saving the environment as he does turning a profit.

His teaching foundation is built around one phrase: Social Entrepreneurship, which is exactly what is seems — entrepreneurship that addresses social problems.

Hacker was the keynote speaker at a recent Tuesday Talk Series, hosted by Global Ties Miami in Coral Gables.

“I teach people how to create a new business model who are socially concerned,” said Hacker, who spent three years as the chief financial officer with One Laptop Per Child, a worldwide initiative.

This was the fourth Tuesday Talk Series hosted by Global Ties Miami, a nonprofit that facilitates professional, educational and cultural exchange tours for emerging leaders in business and government. Annette Alvarez, executive director, started theseries to connect topical issues with people who are interested in hearing them discussed with a global slant.

Carmen Hiers, a Global Ties board member, first heard Hacker speak years ago, when she was just venturing into the unknown waters of entrepreneurship.

“I started at the Goldman Sachs small business program and they helped me start my company —Transforma Translation,” Hiers said. “I started on a kitchen table. That was eight years ago. And Bob (Hacker) was always an inspiring and fascinating individual to me.”

Global Ties Miami targets young entrepreneurs as well.

Karla Moscoso, 17, is from the Dominican Republic and is working as a summer intern at BizNovator. As part of the internship program, interns get to attend events like the Tuesday Speaker Series as well as visit different businesses.

“At the end of their internship we give our students an opportunity to participate in a Shark Tank like business pitch in front of a group of successful entrepreneurs,” said Juan Casimiro, creator of Biznovator. “It gives them an opportunity to think quick on their feet, to be persuasive and to be confident.”

Moscoso and two teammates first piqued Casimiro’s interest through an intriguing business idea that had a social angle.

“Phone cases made out of water bottles,” Moscoso said. “They litter our streets at home and recycling is a huge unaddressed problem. So we flipped the trash into a profit.”

Those are the ideas that Casimiro’s company thrives on. He has 30 students from eight countries in this year’s summer internship program.

“We work to empower people, especially the youth, to be global leaders,” Casimiro said.

Casimiro attended the event because he connects strongly with Hacker’s methods and lifestyle.

“Bob eats what I eat and breathes what I breathe when it comes to entrepreneurship,” Casimiro said. “I am tremendously inspired.”

If you go

The next Tuesday Speaker Series will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. July 18 at the Global Ties Miami office, 2850 S. Douglas Road, Suite 305. The talk, which costs $5 for students, $10 for Global Ties members and $15 for Friends of Global Ties, will focus on the Zika virus and ways to avoid it. Dr. Mario Stevenson, director of the Institute of AIDS and Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, will be the guest speaker.

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