« Facebook: my own private Davos | Main | Will networks destroy agencies - or just hollow them out? »


Lughenjo: The Economist starts a not-for-profit


If the Economist wanted a radical big idea from their skunkworks, Project Red Stripe, it looks like they got it.

If I'm honest I was expecting more of a me-too community approach for the readership, but it appears the PRS team have really come up with  something new, for The Economist Group at least, if not most media companies. It will be, in the words of the Project Red Stripe blog, be...

...a web service that harnesses the collective intelligence of The Economist Group’s community, enabling them to contribute their skills and knowledge to international and local development organisations. These business minds will help find solutions to the world’s most important development problems.

What's the social object here, according to Jyri's framework I discussed last month (more on that at Strange  Attractor). Well it looks like issues, or more accurately, social enterprise projects tackling specific issues will be the social objects. Or perhaps I'm missing the point and the acts of assistance by members of the community will be the social objects...

The comments section on the Project Red Stripe blog post about the project are reservedly approving, with comparisons being made to:

It's going to be oh so very, very interesting to see how Project Red Stripe develops this. As the team concludes:

There are many questions, which we have thought long and hard over. Does the world need another volunteer-matching site? Will time-poor professionals donate their time? Do NGOs and other organisations actually need such a site? Can you make money on the back of charity?

In the next few weeks we’ll be dealing with these issues on our blog (starting with the question of making money from philanthopy, below) and at the same time putting together a great pitch for the Group’s management team.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Lughenjo: The Economist starts a not-for-profit:


Come on Ant, that's got to be an April fool's joke gone horribly wrong:

"After four and a half months of sweat and toil we are pleased to announce our idea:

"We’ve codenamed the service “Lughenjo”, an Tuvetan word meaning gift.

Also, didn't they announce a jaded SNS several months back?: http://open.typepad.com/open/2007/05/mysun_mytelegra.html

Hi Ant, I think your blog post has really grasped that what we're doing. The point is that whilst we do have a social objective we will be a for profit company. Ludwig wrote a great post on what it means to be a social business enterprise:

"We are not the only ones who have begun to rethink the divide between profit and social goal. There is a growing “social enterprise” movement. One of its leaders is Muhammad Yunus, who – along with the Grameen Bank he founded – won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to create economic and social benefit from below, notably by pioneering microcredits. He is now promoting another idea that he calls “social business enterprise”. This is an enterprise that has an overarching social goal, but is run like a business – which can include making a profit.

“Once a social entrepreneur operates at 100% or beyond the cost recovery point he has entered the business world with limitless possibilities”, Yunus writes in an article on Grameen Bank’s website. “This is a moment worth celebrating. He has over-come the gravitational force of financial dependence and now is ready for space flight! This is the critical moment of significant institutional transformation. He has moved from the world of philanthropy to the world of business.”

(The full post is here - http://projectredstripe.com/blog/2007/06/29/charity-for-profit/).

Tom - I think it would be harsh to say we announced a 'jaded social network'.I don't think it is fair to say Lughenjo is just a me-too social network.

(Antony - Apologies for using his blog for this discussion).

First of all. Having read your other post (and your comments here with regards to the phenomonal Muhammad Yunus), yes - it certainly seems there's more to what you're proposing than I had got from your main post.

And, yes, the idea of for-profit social projects certainly is interesting(although I would hesitate to put justgiving in the same category - they're a pure for-profit for-profit organisation as far as I can see).

A small point that perhaps you'll clarify soon is that if the Economist isn't supporting the cause, what their role in it is?

Second of all, I (and perhaps Antony) had misintrerpreted your blog silence as meaning that your final idea was "just another SNS". That wasn't a comment about the new announcement.

Best of luck with it!

The comments to this entry are closed.