Australian Filmmaker, Pete Williams

This article harkens back to the Pozen article we read during our first week of class and also relates to our class projects. The article introduces an Australian filmmaker who is creating a documentary on social entrepreneurship called “The New Breed“. He follows the journey of three social entrepreneurs as they use principles of entrepreneurship to take on major social issues around the globe. From his experience filming the documentary, the filmmaker reached the conclusion that, “[i]t’s easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize social entrepreneurs for the work they’re doing, but I think that’s mainly an excuse for not acting.” The documentary is set to be released this summer.

I am very interested is seeing how this film compares/contrasts with Poverty, Inc.


  1. I agree that it’s easy to criticize social entrepreneurs. Indeed, Peter Thiel does a phenomenal job in his book Zero to One. He argues, “Social entrepreneurs aim to combine the best of both worlds and “do well by doing good.” Usually they end up doing neither. The ambiguity between social and financial goals doesn’t help. But the ambiguity in the word “social” is even more of a problem: if something is “socially good,” is it good for society, or merely seen as a good for society? Whatever is good enough to receive applause from all audiences can only be conventional, like the general idea of green energy. Progress isn’t held back by some difference between corporate greed and nonprofit goodness; instead, we’re held back by the sameness of both. Just as corporations tend to copy each other, nonprofits all tend to push the same priorities. Clean tech shows the result: hundreds of undifferentiated products all in the name of one overbroad goal. Doing something different is what’s truly good for society- and it’s also what allows a business to profit by monopolizing a new market. The best projects are likely to be overlooked, not trumpeted by a crowd; the best problems to work on are often the ones nobody else even tries to solve.” I tend to be persuaded by Thiel’s argument that he titles, “The Myth of Social Entrepreneurship.” For someone like Thiel, who has started multiple companies worth well over a billion dollars, the “mainly an excuse for not acting” argument is not pursuasive.

  2. I’m not too sure entrepreneurs needs to overtly set out to “change the world” in order to have that effect. There’s nothing wrong with running an honest business primarily for profit, and having profit as a motive doesn’t take away from any positive effects a given business has on society as a whole. I feel like a lot of social entrepreneurs miss the value inherent to the capitalist system, and that’s why they get criticized. Businesses tend to succeed by finding cheaper or more efficient ways to offer goods or services. That in itself can go miles towards improving society.