I hate potatoes: A brief philosophy of social entrepreneurship by Andrew Vrbas

I once was told a story by a good friend, Paul, in Peru. It was the last night we were together and we were sitting over a shared bottle of beer. He told me that when he was a child, missionaries came to his town and delivered to the village brand new pairs of shoes. They were so happy and their families were so thankful that they wanted somehow to repay this group of missionaries for what they had done.

So, as was their custom, they offered a feast of Cuy (Guinea Pig) to the shoe-givers.

Paul had tears in his eyes when he told me that the missionaries refused to eat this delicacy. He then brightened up when he told me that one of the reasons he liked me from the beginning was because I ate their potatoes.

I hate potatoes, but I love people.

Sharing a meal with my friends is more important than holding on to my preferences and customs.

People need help around the world, down the street, and maybe in your own home.

This is not the topic of dispute; the conflict seems to arise when determining how to help. Fortunately, social entrepreneurs are in general agreement that business provides the infrastructure necessary to lift people from poverty while, at the same time, solving some of society’s problems.

As entrepreneurs, we often get encouragement from reading start-up blogs or listening to podcasts on how to implement our ideas successfully. Not that this is a bad thing; I’ve gained much wisdom from these sources.

But as radical social entrepreneurs, is this enough?

It’s not that studying search engine optimization is fruitless; its success can be proven. Yet, I’m not certain that we should become so entrenched in traditional methods that we lose sight of other ways to learn. .

As radical social entrepreneurs, we need to attend more dances, read more literature and listen more intently to our neighbor.

These methods, although unorthodox, are needed to cultivate a more holistic approach to helping our fellow citizens of the world. Simply giving is not enough; sometimes, we need to step outside of our expectations in order to serve people best.

Sometimes, we just need to eat a few potatoes.

A guest article by Andrew Vrbas. Andrew is founder of Pacha Soap.

flickr: Cuorhome