Values are the DNA of human development.
Review of historical trends suggests it. Business management research supports it. International development studies demonstrate it. And our decades of experience in hard places confirm it.
The field of social entrepreneurship is awash in “value propositions” and “social value creation.” Yet social entrepreneurs and academics alike are struggling to translate amorphous social value into specific values, measurable against a clear standard.
We recognize that getting specific about social entrepreneurship values is touchy. Assessing values alignment is challenging. And actually living by values can be controversial – especially in contexts impacted and polarized by globalization, pluralism, and relativism.
But values are actions, not words. Behaviors, not sentiments. Decisions, not slogans.
We have chosen the life of Jesus Christ as the model by which we measure our values in practice. We respect others’ models and values, and state ours up front to facilitate understanding, build trust, and encourage collaboration.
Five core values guide and propel our efforts with social entrepreneurs. Each is a critical discipline for effective social entrepreneurship against the odds. Practiced in creative tension as an integrated set, these values balance and sustain innovation “at the edge of chaos.”
- Passion: enduring sacrifice. Passion is unflagging zeal for the mission, springing from a deep inner well of love, willingly choosing to suffer and sacrifice for others.
- Humility: serving with respect. Humility takes the genuine attitude and active role of a servant and perpetual learner; content with shadows, not limelight; focusing on mission, not self.
- Faith: embracing risk. Faith is the spirit of the entrepreneur, with raw courage and unshakable confidence to take bold risks to innovate and invest despite obstacles, sure of future impact.
- Wisdom: applying insight. Wisdom applies profound truth into complexity, perceiving what is at stake when dilemmas defy answers, finding a way forward under pressure.
- Integrity: deeds equal words. Integrity, the foundation of character, is purity of motive, sincerity of intention, and unalloyed truthfulness that delivers on “my word is my bond” promises.