שם הכותב: תאריך: 08 מרץ 2013

I was very fortunate to be introduced to an inspiring social entrepreneur from China. I interviewed Ms. Cong by Skype for the book (a work in progress) that I am writing with my colleague Prof. Susan Coleman on Social Entrepreneurship. Ms. Cong is a charming always smiling Chinese woman that teaches high school in China. A friend from Singapore introduced us by email.  When I "mbarteret" Ms. Cong through Skype, she seemed very young to me, in fact, she looked like a teenager. I wondered if this was the 35-year-old teacher I planned to interview. It was her. She was very articulated in English and had a slight Chinese accent. Her story influenced me so much, that I keep telling it to my family and friends.

Here is Ms. Cong's Social Entrepreneurship story.

Ms. Cong Wu is a 35 year-old English teacher in the American high-school for diplomats, in Chengdu, China. She was widowed almost 7 years ago. She lives with her parents, her two young brothers and her 13 year-old son, Deshi. Except Ms. Cong, the other members of the family are unemployed. They live in a tiny house and maintain a very modest lifestyle. Deshi is doing very well at school, especially in Chinese drawing. However, Ms. Cong cannot afford any extra courses for Deshi; therefore, he paints at home and cannot realize his full potential.

As Chinese drawing is very fulfilling for Deshi, Ms. Cong came up with an idea to barter it with teaching English, which is her expertise. She approached the high school Chinese drawing teacher and offered to reward her by giving her son English lessons. It went really well. Ms. Cong thought that establishing a barter-concept is an extremely practical idea, i.e., offering classes in exchange for other classes, thus giving young pupils the opportunity to receive extra classes at no extra charge. Similar to her situation, many families in her residential area are not able to afford extra classes. So, she started by going from one to the other and trying to couple them together for bartering knowledge and expertise relevant to their children. Since there was a huge need, her idea became very popular in the Chengdu area. The barter-concept activities first took place at a school in her residential area; then, Ms. Cong and a few additional shareholders renovated a nearby building and dedicated it to the barter-concept activities. As most good ideas, it developed into new directions: pupils started bartering by themselves, playing guitar for math lessons, teaching how to color their nails for fashion consulting and so forth.

One day, an American professor visited the high school along with some diplomats. The professor was informed about the teacher's entrepreneurial undertaking for the pupils that could not afford extra lessons. The professor was fascinated and asked to meet Ms. Cong. He was extremely interested in her successful barter-concept. After a few months he contacted her and offered a donation for the purpose of computerizing the barter-concept in order to expand the activity to more poor pupils. Very soon, pupils of more affluent families were attracted to the computerized barter-concept and started to use the platform as well. Ms. Cong's social business derived from a necessity-based condition that had evolved into an opportunity-based business.

Ms. Cong story shows how social entrepreneurship can be of an enormous contribution to the whole community. Her story is inspiring and encouraging. It should stimulate more people, all over the world, to take action, even on a small scale, because it can make an amazing difference.

This case study was selected specifically for the Good-Deeds-Day, March, 5th, 2013, http://www.good-deeds-day.org.il/

שייך לנושאים: הצלחה, חדשנות, יזמות, קהילה