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Anthrocapitalism: Can’t we all be ‘Philanthropists’?

December 18, 2012

Within the slur of neologisms representing a presiding social strategy over traditional capitalism, a recent article on Fast Company by Elaine Dundon introduces a new one: anthrocapitalism.

In essence, a technologically advancing world is connecting, yet disconnecting people and the capitalist system continues to reveal residual faults regardless of (disparate) economic prosperity.

A business solely earning money is not valued to the consumer anymore. An emerging majority recognizes shoddy products and pitfalls of money chasing; they want greater meaning and social value both in their work and the products, services and organizations they support–anthrocapitalism connects the dots.

The concept presents yet another alternative to failing capitalism. Although varied initiatives striving to make a breakthrough haven’t achieved adequate success, all for-benefit foci sow seeds of change–a new forest can’t arise out of an industrial lot overnight.

I like how Dundon expands and applies the understanding of philanthropy. Most of us perceive the word in its modern understanding regarding financial gifts made as charitable donations, but it derives from Greek philo and anthropos, roughly translating to “love of humanity.”

Anthro (social) capitalism incorporates a love of humanity with business. The author explains “the world of the nonprofits and for-profits are converging under this new style of capitalism whereby doing good and making a profit are not necessarily in conflict with each other,” that “it’s about doing good and doing well financially at the same time.”

Essentially, new terms have been added to represent business centered on meaning, purpose, people and planet before profit. Organizations with these goals have a strong track record–both in benefit and profit, yet the current playing field is not equipped with ecosystems of support or legal conditions allowing entrepreneurs to start businesses with these combined goals.

Dundon expresses the improved possibilities if all leaders thought themselves to be philanthropists, “lovers of humanity.” While businesses continue working toward double people-profit goals, emerging leaders will have the chance to adopt legislation allowing innovative entrepreneurs to file as a for-benefit business–combining social and/or environmental benefits with profits in an emerging fourth sector of economy. For more, read New Horizons: For-Benefit Business; For-Benefit World.

We can all be, as Dudon refers, “inspirational role models” focusing on doing what’s right, what serves humanity and offers deeper meaning to life fostering sprouts of a new generation moving toward moral consciousness and sustainability.

As a leader in a historical turning point, what will you do?

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