Friday, 13 April 2012

Social Entrepreneurs - the importance of IP

Making money is essential and can also be fun. However, it is rarely satisfying simply for the sake of it. Making a difference, creating social change for the better is extremely rewarding and fun, but not essential to live - one has to eat or support a family. One of the best aspects of working in Africa is that there is an abundance of opportunity to do both; make a difference and make money. Indeed firms like Discovery are so good at it as to be revolutionary. This article explains the rise of the social entrepreneur and how and why they are being "leveraged" to do business in Africa.

Structuring IP, specifically its ownership and use, in the types of business relationships envisaged by the article is not only extremely important but also requires creative thought that extends beyond typical licensing models for trade marks, copyright, patents and know-how. From an awareness of how to protect a trade mark from the damaging effects of genericism (so common to new technologies) to using and protecting IP in open source innovation environments, an understanding of IP and how it can help is not only crucial to making the model work, but a vital part of the ensuring that social change is permanent, encouraged and rewarding, in its wider sense, for both stakeholders. The investor's role in ensuring that a fair deal is reached when "leveraging" the entrepreneur will assist in sustaining the model.

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