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Business As Unusual: How To Turn A Profit From Doing Good

This week in Dubai, a game-changing approach to business is bringing together leaders of groups as disparate as financial services giant J.P. Morgan, retailer TOMS, and international NGO The magnet is SOCENT Week, a series of panels and networking events designed to share best practices of social entrepreneurship in order to guide the public towards fulfilling the same mission of “creating sustainability, encouraging social innovation, and re-investing in the community,” explains its co-founder Fereshteh Amarsy.

Panels will focus on everything from the environment and healthcare to fashion and architecture, with success stories including TOMS’ “One-for-One” sales model, which pushes a portion of profits into distributing shoes in 60 countries and restoring sight in 13. The Hult Prize competition will meanwhile task students with preventing disease in slums.  

Awareness of social entrepreneurship’s potential has certainly come a long way. Five years ago, when Baraka Advisors’ communications strategist Rama Chakaki said that the company was supporting social entrepreneurs, “the public’s reaction was, ‘What’s that?’” she recalls. Chakaki, also a co-organizer of SOCENT Week, says she is now “delighted to see growth and a real, vibrant community come together.”

Co-organizer Medea Nocentini agrees that the number of global leaders participating in the second annual edition “is a sign that the sector is attractive for investors, and that we’re gaining credibility as a region in that sense.”

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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