Unreasonables, Episode 10: Does Making Money Mean The End Of Doing Good?

As one social entrepreneur looks to scale her company so she can have the most impact, she must decide whether being a nonprofit will help or hinder her efforts.

Saba Gul’s handbag company, Bliss, has a simple model: Pakistani girls earn money making the bags in exchange for going to school. By giving them both an income and an education, Gul hopes that Bliss can break the cycle of poverty and give a generation of girls more choices in life.

But Bliss is a small company. To truly make a difference in the lives of Pakistani girls, the company will need to scale up, which means producing more bags. So Gul is confronted with a dilemma that many social entrepeneurs face: Should her company be for-profit or a nonprofit. As a nonprofit, Bliss would avoid accusations that it was exploiting its young workers; as a for-profit, it would have more of a chance of making enough money to employ more girls. What’s the right call? Even the mentors at the Unreasonable Institute disagree.

This is the latest video in The Unreasonables, a series tracking the participants in the most recent Unreasonable Institute. To see what’s coming up, watch a preview of the whole season and see a list of all the episodes here.

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  • Ron

    A false choice. Non-profits can scale and create reserve capital, a proxy to equity/profit. Take a look at major charities such as the United Way. Huge money-making organizations that are decidedly non-profit.

  • Benjamin Taghavi-Awal

    How about creating that opportunity to their parents instead and increase their income, partly dedicated for the education of their children? That could be stated in the work contract. You allow them to get fair salaries and support a good life, if they set aside (you do it for them) a proportion of the salary targeted for education only? 

    Benjamin Taghavi-Awal

  • Kamasamudram Ravilochan

    The 9th and 10th episodes are arguably the best edited ones in this serious.  Hats off to all involved.  These tell a story so well in such a short time - they bring out the philosophy of URI very well and show the various facets of a "pilgrim's progress" beautifully! - K. Ravilochan