Here's an idea for a social entrepreneur - mission insurance. Now that we have social businesses, social enterprises, and nonprofits all producing social goods we need some way of making sure that the good gets done. Some type of insurance to keep the profit motive (even if its just break-even financial sustainability) from overwhelming the social mission.
Why do we need this? First, history. The ongoing trials of for-profit higher education in the USA (which I noticed in their paid political advertisement against "job killing regulation" in today's New York Times prefer to call themselves "career colleges") and commercial microfinance in India, Mexico and elsewhere are ripe examples of financial motivations overtaking social mission.
Second, consumer protection - for both donors and customers of nonprofits and social businesses. From the donors' perspective we need something more than metrics and annual reports that cements the organization's commitment to social good. Nonprofits have typically relied on (been given a pass by) their corporate structure and the public accountability of their boards. I'd say both of these are not strong enough. Social businesses, particularly those that meet the standards of a B Corporation, are beginning to document and commit themselves contractually to social good. This is a step toward mission insurance, but the B Corporation* standards are written mostly to protect business owners, then the investors, then the customers. We need something that will work for downstream investors or donors.
And there is nothing available to ensure customers - be they the borrowers from a microfinance organization, the teen employed by a job training company, or the working mom seeking a new credential to better her job prospects - that the services they are getting are being designed and delivered with a measurable, enforceable commitment to bettering lives and communities.
Mission insurance - something that takes the organizational commitment of a B Corp, the public accountability and reporting of nonprofit governance, and anything useful we've learned about social return and social impact - and puts it together to protect the commitment to a long term goal. There you have it, my product idea for the day.**
* Full disclosure: My company, Blueprint Research & Design, is a B Corporation.