Are You An Intrapreneur?

Could bringing change from the inside out be the key to greater social, sustainable and financial development?

Original enterprise has long been hailed as the bedrock of this country–and of many around the world. The movement around the start-up spirit in a tough economy (or any economic state, for that matter) is nothing new. As many of us have seen, some of the biggest companies in history have started during a recessionary period of time–Microsoft, General Electric and Hewlett-Packard, among them.

Despite this positive sheen, many today consider entrepreneurship (particular of the social-impact nature) and the venture climates surrounding it to be a trending topic that is too often romantically portrayed as “the holy grail of individuality.” With disparate access to capital, education or business connections within markets, it can become a difficult environment to boost new ideas. Beyond Profit‘s Adrienne Villani has stirred an interesting debate on the subject, offering an alternative model for change: intrapreneurship.

“Often, it is less risky for someone to be an entrepreneur within a company – and intrapreneur. And we should acknowledge the value in that activity. Becoming a leader within an already-formed enterprise structure, within a corporate environment.”

Villani cites India as a prime example of both entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial progress, as many of the most successful ventures in the emerging nation succeed through family businesses with limited funds and access to higher education.

“No Indian mother wants to say ‘My son’s an entrepreneur’ (or even worse, a social entrepreneur). She wants to say ‘My son’s a banker/doctor/lawyer/ engineer.’ This is the reality.”

Using the innovations of Tata (for the world’s most inexpensive car, most accessible water purifier and coincidentally one of the oldest, largest, and most successful Indian family businesses) and Nokia (for designing technology that can be used in the developing world), Villani argues that the key to stimulating new business activity can be recognized internally by organizations.

“Intrapreneurship is a key element to the future and ongoing sustainability of companies. Innovation is indeed happening inside, and it begs the question: Is intrapreneurship the future of social business?”

Beyond Profit: Intrapreneurship: Turning Entrepreneurship Inside-Out

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