US social entrepreneur draws a crowd at iSE masterclass

On the morning following our tenth anniversary celebration, I was absolutely thrilled to welcome over fifty social entrepreneurs to a masterclass with guest speaker Kevin Lynch, president of Rebuild Resources, a social enterprise in St Paul, Minnesota. Rebuild Resources helps chronic addicts and alcoholics find a path to sobriety and self-sufficiency through meaningful, transitional employment. It was founded by Kevin — a recovering alcoholic himself at that time – in 1984 and has since helped more than nine hundred men and women. Its service generates a social return on investment of nearly half a million dollars per successful graduate.

Kevin (interviewed here on Planet Good Radio) is also co-author of Mission, Inc: The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Enterprise. Kevin is a great speaker and a good man, never afraid to talk openly and honestly about either his own experiences or the challenges that Rebuild Resources has faced. I first met him a couple of years ago and knew then that if at all possible I’d like to invite him to do a workshop in Birmingham.

Kevin believes that successful social enterprises must navigate their way through — and balance — ten paradoxes. He describes these paradoxes as:

  • Doing Good Versus Doing Well
  • Form Versus Function
  • Planning Versus Practice
  • Debits Versus Credits
  • Do-Gooders Versus Good Doers
  • Perception Versus Reality
  • Value Versus Waste
  • Metrics Versus Instinct
  • Growth Versus Focus
  • Sweat Equity Versus Blood Equity

Following a lively question and answer session, three Birmingham-based social entrepreneurs had the opportunity to showcase their businesses and share one obstacle to its growth for Kevin and the rest of the audience to discuss and offer advice on.

“Kevin was superb,” said one delegate, “and I would love to pick his brains for a week or two longer!”

I’d like to thank Kevin for his generosity, his time and his patience throughout several crowded days and wish him and everyone at Rebuild Resources continuing success.

If you weren’t able to get to the masterclass then order a copy of Mission Inc — you won’t regret it!

  1. Sarah Crawley Reply

    I just want to add to the above that I think the Masterclass was one of the best things we have ever done. The format enabled individual social entrepreneurs to get direct help from a very experienced ‘master’ but also from the rest of the audience – it was amazing – Kevin told me afterwards that they use this format a lot in the states to support growing busineses – it was great and the feedback from those taking part was brilliant.

    For those that missed it you missed a treat! – but we will do it again next year!

  2. Alun Severn Reply

    Sarah — Thanks for the additional comment. Many will look forward to the 2010 repeat.

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