Cookie-cutter approach to social enterprise

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Two years ago, [Alicia] Polak founded The Khayelitsha Cookie Co., which now employs 11 women from the sprawling shantytown to bake high-end cookies and brownies that are distributed to top hotels, restaurants and coffeehouses throughout South Africa. The cookies come packed in plastic with a cartoon on the front showing a big, African 'mama' in traditional dress and the company slogan: "Creating opportunity one bite at a time."

For Polak, the entrepreneurial venture is about making money, but also much more. "My driving force in this company is that I want them out of those shacks," says Polak of the hundreds of thousands of people living in poverty in South African townships. "I want to help change their lives using this company as the vehicle."

Read the whole article for more about her story. Her company is part of Wharton’s Societal Wealth Generation program.

The goal of the Wharton initiative is to:

Move philanthropy away from dependence on charitable donations to projects that can sustain themselves financially over the long term. "What you set in motion is a virtuous cycle," [Ian McMillan] explains. "The more money you make, the more people are helped. The more people who are helped, the more money the entrepreneur makes." He also points out that entrepreneurs can be successful in developing economies on very little profit. "What looks to be not much profit in the eyes of a U.S. entrepreneur is a lot of money in those countries. They're much happier with a smaller profit."

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