The Most Effective Way to Better Society | Jung-Hyeon Kim | TEDxKFAS

The Most Effective Way to Better Society | Jung-Hyeon Kim | TEDxKFAS


Translator: Ashley Park
Reviewer: Jihyeon J. Kim Hello. I’m Jung-Hyeon Kim. I’m overwhelmed by the previous
exemplary presentations, but I’ll try to do my best. “Social enterprise” is a new buzzword. Most of you probably have heard the term, but never gave it too much thought. I came across the term in 2008. In my case, I happened to already
know what social enterprise was. I just thought, “It’s another
one of those terms,” because at the time,
there were all kinds of terms like “alternative enterprise,”
floating around. These terms have since become
more clearly defined, but most people don’t have
a clear concept of what they are. So for me, understanding
the concept of social enterprise is like discovering a hidden pearl. You may be well aware
of social enterprises and have learned about successful
models of social entrepreneurship from the previous talks. But frankly, most people
consider it non-mainstream. So while they may think it’s a great idea, they don’t really want to get involved. They don’t want to be associated
with its un-prosperous image, either. But like the respectable entrepreneurs
who delivered talks before me, I also believe social enterprise
can be a good way — a good tool — to do good things. There are three reasons behind my belief. First, a social enterprise
can be financially independent. Second, it can expand on its own. And third, it can be highly effective,
which is also very appealing. This may not give you a clear picture,
so I’ll explain in more detail how I was attracted
to the social enterprise business, and what I have accomplished so far. Many of you may have heard about this. This is Aravind in India,
which I use as an example frequently, because when I learned about it
as a young college student, I thought it was awesome. It’s an important case to me. India is one of those countries with a large low-income population and this causes many problems,
including health issues. This hospital created a business
focusing on cataract operations. In Korea, only a very small number
of people go blind because of cataracts, but at the time this hospital was founded, many Indians couldn’t afford
the operations and were going blind. To solve the problem,
the hospital was founded and various efforts were put in. To bear the high cost of hiring doctors, they implemented innovative processes
to maximize their efficiency. They increased overall productivity by hiring unemployed females, and by adopting many other
means to curtail costs. As a result, they were able to create
a system that could generate high profits, while also allowing people on the verge
of losing their eyesight to have surgery for free or at a very low cost. And at the same time, they maintained and expanded
their high operating profit. I thought what they did
was truly remarkable, and I envied it. The hospital is still performing
about 200,000 surgeries a year. The individual who made the hospital
may be a mere mortal, but by creating this
innovative business model and saving many at-risk people
from going blind, this person became a true Superman. Instead of leaning on others
to stay afloat, the hospital is independently
making a profit, while helping numerous people
in a sustainable manner. If this were a government project, an enormous amount of funds would
be spent to solve the cataract problem. And then if government support were cut,
the problem would reemerge. But the hospital created
its own sustainable method, that didn’t depend on others. I majored in business in college, and will continue to work in business
for the rest of my life. So personally, I thought if I could
create such an enterprise, my life would be very meaningful. And that’s why I envied
the founders of the hospital. They inspired me so much. And there is another reason
I find this case most impressive. After the eyesight business, the team started a business
to distribute hearing aids to help people who are going deaf. However, it did not go as well
as the eyesight project. So I got curious about why it failed, why this successful team
with extensive experience did not do well in its new venture. I started to investigate and became
more interested in the business. Actually, when I first became interested
in social enterprise as a student, I did a lot of case studies. I recognized that many of them
couldn’t be applied in Korea, because fortunately, in Korea, social security already covers
serious and dire problems. But what is unusual about Korea is that the aging population is increasing
at the fastest pace in the world, accounting for half of the total
poverty population. Many problems will arise from this that we must prepare for. But nobody is coming up with solutions. So this piqued my interest. The total aging population
is now over five million and deafness almost always
accompanies aging. Deafness may be considered
a relatively minor problem, but when an employee is deaf, his or her participation in any
economic activity becomes limited, due to communication problems. This drop in economic activity causes
serious secondary and tertiary problems. And another ensuing problem is isolation. Isolation in a family, in society
and in the community deteriorates the quality
of life drastically. I found that Korea was failing to deal with the problem properly. And so I wanted to apply, here in Korea, the solutions from some
of the cases I had studied. So I founded a company
named Delight in 2009 to help solve the issue. We thought that providing aid for free or at a very low cost
like Aravind, was risky. Luckily, government subsidies
are available for the hearing impaired to purchase hearing aids. So, with the goal to provide hearing aids
at a price equivalent to the subsidies, three college students, including myself, started a business in a small room. That was the beginning of our company. And all of us worked together
to grow the business. The government subsidy is about one-fifth of the average market price
of hearing aids. So if we could somehow adjust
the price at this level, seniors without the financial means
to buy expensive hearing aids would be able to solve
their hearing problems at no cost. So we developed and started distributing
products that met that price point. We have helped solve
social issues in this way. We set up branches across the country and kept finding ways to make profits to grow the company. As a college student, I knew
that I could only make a small impact. But I founded Delight
as a social enterprise and helped about 20,000 Koreans
procure hearing aids at very low prices or for free. As our next step, we focused
on the housing issue of young Koreans. As you well know, Seoul is one
of the cities in the world where housing prices are quite high,
considering the average income. I wanted to solve
the housing issue of the young, a problem so well known that I probably
don’t have to explain it to you. As you may know, living conditions
are normally quite horrible in Seoul’s low-cost housing units. You are forced to either
live in these housing units or spend a huge proportion
of your income on housing, to the detriment of your overall
quality of life. Actually, there are not many options
available to young people. Living in inadequate conditions or paying high expenses
to live in a satisfactory house are the only options for them. Many people have trouble with housing. Because so many people suffer from this, I figured the problem must be extensive. So I started another
social enterprise, Woozoo. Woozoo is a business
that provides young people with a decent place to live at a low cost, using the concept of a “share house.” The houses are well designed and well furnished, but are provided at a very low cost, similar to the price of the low-cost
housing units seen in the previous slide. This is how we’re trying to solve
the housing problem facing young people. We’re now running
20 share houses in Seoul. When we first opened the houses,
we found there were on average six to eight applicants
for every available vacancy. This told us that housing
was problematic for young people, and that they had been waiting
for such an alternative. So we are now expanding
the business rapidly. Lastly, I would like to mention
another undertaking of mine. Being a fine arts major comes with quite a price. If you don’t have the means,
you’re discouraged from pursuing art. Fine arts education costs as much as that of a music major. Many young kids give up their dream
of becoming a fine arts major, since their families don’t have
sufficient resources to support them. Or they continue to study it, putting a strain on their parents. That is the reality of fine arts
education in Korea. So, we’ve been running
this business since 2012 to help relieve the issue. To gain college admission, fine arts students have to pay
millions of won for private tutoring at prestigous institutions, like the ones
near Hongik University. So for the students
who cannot afford this, we run private fine arts institutions
to teach them free of charge. We now have three institutions in Seoul. We’re trying to come up with ways to keep aspiring artists
from compromising their dreams. The number of beneficiaries
of Woozoo is about 500 and we plan to increase the number
to 2,000 by the end of this year. Also, about 100 students have
been educated in the fine arts school, and that number is expected to grow
to between 200 and 250. These are the students
who study at our institution. The ugly guy on the right is me — it’s a picture of me
with my good-looking students. Looking back, I just happened to learn about social
entrepreneurship by chance, when I found out
about that hospital in India. Then, I started to think about how
I could promote social values in a sustainable, effective way. By being inspired by others
and creating businesses such as these, I believe I have proved that although
I am a not a powerful person, there is a way I can display my strength. Using this effective tool
that is social enterprise, I was able to accomplish many things,
and will continue to do so. There are many ways to change
and re-balance the world to make it a fairer place for everyone. To this end, a person might endeavor
to become the president or a high-ranking government official. But I think social enterprise is the most
realistic and effective way to effect change, because anyone,
even me as a young student, can start it at any time,
with only his or her will. Even when someone
does not give me the authority or the vote to do something, I can take control of my fate
and do things my own way. And since I can make a profit, I don’t need to depend on anyone else
to realize my dream. In this sense, social enterprise
is one of the most attractive ways to change the world, and is a highly effective, efficient and even fun way to do so. Most of you may have heard
the term social enterprise without giving much thought
to what kind of impact it has and how it can be created. There are many ways to bring about change. But through my talk today, I hope those
of you who want to change the world or something to that effect, will consider
social enterprise as an option as well. Thank you. (Applause)

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