U.S. Embassy supports social entrepreneurship

U.S. Ambassador Mark Gitenstein advised Romanian NGOs “to become self-sustaining commercially and economically”, offering the embassy’s support. “Our goal here in the U.S. Embassy in the social sector is similar to what we’re trying to do in the law-enforcement sector, in the business sector, in the government sector. And that is to help you develop self-sustaining institutions that are less and less dependent upon the West and the U.S. Government”, Gitenstein said on Monday, in the opening of the Social Enterprise Conference in Bucharest, a U.S. Embassy press release informed. “So, if you can learn the lessons that we have learned in the United States, that it’s possible for NGOs to become self-sustaining commercially and economically and that they can leverage against each other to become more effective, this will be an incredible accomplishment here as well. And we are here to help you do that“, he added. In his opinion, social entrepreneurship is a new and positive trend in Romania which will open new opportunities ‘for those whose access to the labor market is not easy, but whose contribution to the economic development of Romania can be valuable’.

The U.S Ambassador gave some famous examples of the use of social enterprise methods in the non-profit sector, such as the Girl Scouts, who started baking and selling cookies to support their activities in 1917 and still sell today in a USD 700 million, girl-led program. According to Gitenstein, other similar example is Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), founded by Geoffrey Canada as a one-block program in the early 1990s and then expanding to a 24-block area network in 1997. And last, but not the least, the ambassador gave a personal example of his son Ben who ran the affordable housing program for the whole state of Washington in the United States and who, despite he is now working for Microsoft ‘has every intention of returning to the non-profit sector afterwards’.

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