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October 11, 2018

 

Social entrepreneurs differ from traditional entrepreneurs in that they focus on using business to address global challenges, such as climate change, poverty, and hunger. We classify these challenges as wicked, complex problems because they are almost impossible to solve.

 

But what exactly defines a wicked, complex problem? The term wicked problem was introduced by C. West Churchman, a University of Berkeley Business Professor, in 1967. It describes a social problem that has so many interconnected pieces involved that if you impact one piece, the others are effected.

 

For those of you that did not get the hint, this is synonymous to the relationships within ecosystems and one of the reason's pollinator diversity is a wicked problem. Bees and plants have what is called a symbiotic relationship, a relationship where both species benefit.

 

The plant needs the bee to transport pollen so that I can reproduce, while the bee needs the plant because it uses pollen and nectar for food. Fertilizers help our plants grow, but as they are absorbed by the plant they become poisonous to the bee, who then are not around to pollinate the flower. Thus, we have a wicked problem.

 

The complex part of this challenge refers to systems whose interactions are continually changing. Seasonality, climate change, habitat loss and development, even the smaller changes such as consumer crop preference are all examples of how pollinator operate in a complex. Not to mention the continuous impact people have on other species that are connected to pollinators (and now we are back to wicked)

 

In summary, addressing pollinator diversity in the United States is a massive challenge. However, unlike traditional entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs are driven by impact rather than profit.

 

By solve such a problem through business, we can ensure not just an environmentally sustainable system, but a sustainable revenue stream that can make the solution last indefinitely.

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