Social Enterprise


Most people have heard of social enterprises: companies that use their commercial success for the common good by supporting humanitarian projects rather than maximizing profits. One-for-one social enterprises give something to someone in need for every item bought: shoes, glasses, toothbrushes, even gluten-free muffins.

SE Globe

Some old friends of mine are launching a social enterprise in a sector where they are glaringly absent: the pharmaceutical industry. Here’s how it works. The for-profit company—One World Pharmaceuticals (OWP)—makes medications for people living with epilepsy. A significant portion of profits from U.S. sales will go to helping epilepsy patients in the developing world through the R.O.W. (Rest Of World) Foundation.

“We need Big Pharma to research and develop lifesaving drugs,” says Scott Boyer, Founder and President of OWP. “But they’re profit-driven companies and most of their products are only available in the wealthiest countries. These drugs aren’t typically marketed in the rest of the world, referred to in Big Pharma as R.O.W.”

This symbiotic business relationship is unusual in that the ROW Foundation is the majority-owner of OWP. The Foundation will insure that the bulk of company profits go to needy patients in under-resourced areas. Did you catch the difference with this social enterprise? The not-for-profit foundation is the dog, not the tail.

One World, One Standard.

More than 50 million people suffer with epilepsy. More than 40 million of these people live in under-resourced areas of the world. And more than 30 million of them don’t have access to basic treatment or effective medications.

“The global inequity in care of those with epilepsy is eye-opening and heart-wrenching,” says Scott. “The knowledge and medicines already exist to bring hope and a brighter future to millions. Addressing this disparity and injustice is why we started OWP and the ROW Foundation.”

“My sister-in-law, a niece and a nephew all wrestled with the disorder,” says Paul Regan, Administrator of ROW. “I’ve seen the life-changing difference the right medications and treatment can make and I desperately want everyone with epilepsy to have the same chance for a better future. Epilepsy is a global problem that deserves a global solution. We aim to be part of that solution.”

What a lofty goal to aim for. What are you aiming at?

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2 thoughts on “Social Enterprise

  1. Novel idea and I’m confused(so what else is new). The excessive costs with the built-in profits are driven from the drug manufacturer. How would a pharmaceutical distributor tap into these profits outside of their own small mark-up/profit? Wouldn’t the biggest bang for the buck be at the manufacturer level as it is so with the other enterprises.

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