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Fan Li: SE requires more devotion and responsibility than ordinary jobs

【观点】| Insight

By Jointing.Media, in Shanghai 2010-01-30



Audio 1 of 14 from this talk

Description:Li Fan tells us it’s in Japan that she first knew of NPO. As a postgraduate student in a college of Japan, She accidentally knew there was a recruitment meeting of a NPO, which was held by Nissan in school. With curiosity, She attended the interview and managed to get the position. Working for the organization broadens her horizon and attracts her to the world of NPOs. After graduation, Li Fan became a full member of it, in charge of Internationl Communication, through which she observed the sprouting of China’s NGO and public services. In order to involve herself in more programs about China, Li Fan and Robin Rowland who has the same wish build up Global Links Initiative(GLI).


Audio 2 of 14 from this talk

2.1 公益创投盛行是好事吗?DescriptionCompared with the situation before in China, when there was rare people involved in social enterprise, there are lots of companies put themselves in this area. It’s better than nothing.

Enterprise enterprises in China don’t develop step by step as western counterparts. What is supposed to occur in different stages is now found at the same stage in China. For example, UK initiated Charity Law at first, and then Christian Church took the second initiative. In recent years, social enterprises have become the mainstream entity. And the situation in China have plenty of problems. The NPOs probably could not handle the issue because of lacking experiences. Obviously, there are more people in the upside of an industry than downside. We have abundant money already, but it is extremely hard to find the right distribution channel to put the money to the right place. There is no such professional group in China taking this part in charity field.

2.2 SE是NGO的升级版吗? DescriptionThe fundamental issue is the lack of public spirit. People don’t participate in public affairs and usually don’t understand them. They just do it by themselves. It doesn’t mean that organizations in USA are much better, but the ordinary families in USA always take part in charity and community services. They care about things happening in their community. The higher degree of education they are in, the more active participation in public affairs they have.

In China, people might generally regard that charity needs money. I think the basic idea is the absence of public spirit, rather than not enough NGOs. If we keep doing charity based on it, we will not develop it smoothly. Instead, we probably cannot go any further.


Audio 3 of 14 from this talk

DescriptionFan Li talks about the advantages and disadvantages of social entrepreneurship for college students. She emphasized zero-burden granting graduates leverages compared with those who have been married. Additionally, the diversified and smooth approaches of communicating like Facebook, from the scope of Li, enable students to come up with more creative ideas efficiently. What is seemly contradictory, she regards “zero-burden” as one major disadvantage for them, for the simple reason that “zero-burden” sometimes is the catalyst of “impulse”.


Audio 4 of 14 from this talk

Description: Fan Li initiates several suggestions for college students interested in social entrepreneurship: interest, experience, and awareness of devotion and responsibility. She advises students to estimate themselves to find out whether or not they are really suitable for social entrepreneurship. When involved in big corporations, they could gain more experience, as well as cultivate some necessary skills and habits. Social entrepreneurship requires more devotion and responsibility than ordinary jobs, due to the unique social responsibility and influence it possesses.


Audio 5 of 14 from this talk

Description: There are hardly any differences between NPO and SE in many institution now. Many people would say a social enterprise is an upgraded or advanced NPO. Actually, they are different. For example, the GREEN PEACE, an organization emphasize on promotion to express their idea. Its method decides that its operation could only be supported by fund or donation, but not by business.


Audio 6 of 14 from this talk

Description: Knowing what he would like to accomplish is the most critical part for a social entrepreneur. The goal would decide how you look for the resource and the business mode. However, there are many social enterprises work on their goal depends on their current resource. That is a problem. If we could be clear about our objective, we could solve the funding resources. We would find out that some could be donated, some could be funded and others have to be made by ourselves.


Audio 7 of 14 from this talk

DescriptionWhen it came to the definition and characteristics of Social Enterprise, Ms. Li Fan said there was no conclusive definition of it, as both NPOs and SEs are changing and growing. In Japanese, there’s a term called “Start-up Entrepreneur”. GLI prefers the European definition of social enterprise. And there are usually three characteristics of a typical social enterprise: sociality, business, and individual-development concentration.


Audio 8 of 14 from this talk

DescriptionThe sociality of social enterprise refers to its mission in addressing a particular social issue. To put it into extreme, if the issue is addressed, then there’s no need for the social enterprise to stay still. In reality, there are many other methods to make a better balance. While some people accomplish their tasks simply by helping a certain people in a certain area, while some other people copy this success models to help more people after it worked out in a place. After it works well, more people would use technology output and technology instruction to help other people, based on the successful experiences.


Audio 9 of 14 from this talk

DescriptionUsually, from the international mainstream point of view, the income gained from chargeable service should count at least around 50% of the total income of the social enterprise, or it’s relying too much on donations alike means. But there’s no strict number reference as it’s also related to different industries, etc.


Audio 10 of 14 from this talk

DescriptionModern companies are basically categorized as social enterprises, NPOs and common companies. SEs are in the gray zone between NPO and common companies. NPO have some features of SEs, and their funds come from providing commercial service. For example, there was a Taiwanese IT company which brought technology to Shaanxi countryside and made internet available to many families. They were not only selling their software products, but also were helping the peasants access digital world. SEs are different from each other within their own category: some SEs are more similar to NPOs—they rely on donations and foundation sponsorship; Some SEs have premium system, but most of the profit is then reinvested towards larger social projects.


Audio 11 of 14 from this talk

DescriptionLi Fan mentioned about her past experience to facilitate some exchange programs for domestic and overseas social entrepreneurs. What she saw among them was the quick understanding of and the willingness to offer help to each other even when they face the language barrier. Therefore, we can see that they have much more in common compared to what they seem to be different in.
The diffence may only exist in the numbers, gender and the audience they serve, etc. Social entrepreneurs are much like artists, there’s no border among them.

Audio 12 of 14 from this talk

DescriptionLi Fan said when talking about “civil society”, the concept of society here is no longer defined by nations

but instead by citizens. However, the patterns of civil society can be totally different due to different situations of the nations.
China’s current political and economic system, thousands of years of feudal hierachy and culture of Confucianism all make its civial society pattern different. Confucianism emphasizes a lot on “family”, which makes the Chinese charity concept focus more on “community-weal” than “commonweal”. There’s a tendency to help people within the same family rather than strangers. This kind of charity culture is with typical Chinese characteristics.

Audio 13 of 14 from this talk

Description: In Japan, Co-beneficial enterprise and Social Enterprise are clearly distinguished. A Social Enterprise is aimed at protecting/supporting many people, while a co-beneficial enterprise is more focused on a specific group of people. Since Social Enterprise is aimed at many people, it can be free from taxes. But in a country like China, people should start up from Co-beneficial enterprise, like guilds and home owners’ associations. Although these associations only protect the benefits of a smaller group of people, we should start from that level first. After these small groups accumulate and this form is promoted, their effects will be equivalent to those of a large social enterprise.

Audio 14 of 14 from this talk

Description: It is hard to judge that how current social enterprise would develop in the future. It may disappear because current reason would not support that anymore. However, that doesn’t mean social enterprise would go back to only NGO. There would be more advanced entities would come up. Social enterprise has some naturally advantages, for example, they could call up many various professionals such as accouting or finance talents to serve for this business.

Contributors:Stephanie,Adrian,Wendy,Shixin,Ellen,ChloeseeShuting, Zhichao



NGO is short for Non Government Organization.

NPO is short for Non-Profit Organization.

SE is short for Social Enterprise.

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