Interview Kim Dankoor: A New Social Entrepreneur

Krista Kleinwort, Cultural Representative and Master student at Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada), interviewed Kim Dankoor for her academic Assignment ‘Social Entrepreneurs’.  Read the interview if you want to know what drives Kim and why she chose Social Entrepreneurship.
Thank you, Krista! I will keep it moving ;). 

Social Entrepreneur

Understanding the impact of media on consumers and awareness amongst media producers of the effects of their products impact has become Kim Dankoor’s focus. During her Master’s year of study at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands she increasingly recognized the chronic stigmatization and discrimination in media and was drawn to combine her work as a journalist with her growing understanding of the impact of media messages on consumers. She began with teaching media literacy to students after graduation. Recognizing the need for increased awareness about the messages in current media, she then created KIM (Kritische Inzichten op het gebied van Media or K(C)ritical Insights regarding Media). KIM’s main key activity is the use of “a two-way strategy: use media to make people aware of the possible influence of media (write articles, make short films, use diverse imagery as an editor/journalist and inspire my media colleagues) and create awareness among the audience about the possible influence of media” (Dankoor, 2015, personal correspondence).  As the author of documentaries, interviews and her own website, Kim moved recently to Atlanta, Georgia to pursue studies at Georgia State University. She is researching the impact of hip hop music videos on men as well as women’s self-concepts with particular emphasis on quantifying how hip hop music impacts consumers self-concept of physical attractiveness and romantic appeal (Dankoor, 2015, personal correspondence).

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The business of KIM, or the activities undertaken by Kim Dankoor to address the problem of stigmatization and discrimination in the media can be clearly articulated via the Social Business Model Canvas. KIM has two main users or customers: media producers and media consumers. KIM offers value in two distinct ways, inspiring media producers to consider the potential influence of their work and to create awareness amongst media consumers of the social, political, and cultural impact of media in their lives. KIM affects system change such as illuminating the influence of hip hop music videos on black person’s self-concepts and increasing the general level of awareness amongst media consumers of the influence of media in their lives. KIM is in the process of giving consumers and producers a way to measure the stereotypical content of their media using a “KIM-chart”. This KIM-chart will be an innovative barometer to measure media’s fairness in representation and Kim plans for this chart to become a new industry standard of measurement. KIM has several key activities to support its system-level change including the use of social media, guest speaking, production of documentaries, acting as an interviewer/moderator and conducting mixed-method research. KIM has several key partnerships including key media stakeholders including producers and consumers, physical resources such as its website and social network access points and intellectual resources such as partnerships with academics like M.D. Harris, Professor of Art History at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Kim Dankoor and her business, KIM (www.kimbykim.com) possess many characteristics of a social entrepreneur(ship). Martin & Osberg (2007) in their article “Social Entrepreneurship: The Case of Definition” defines social entrepreneurship enterprises as having three components, namely the identification of a “stable but inherently unjust equilibrium . . . an opportunity in this unjust equilibrium . . . and forging a new equilibrium that releases trapped potential or alleviates suffering” (p. 35).  These authors go on to explain that social entrepreneurs target an underserved population that lacks economic or financial means to achieve change on their own.

As a person of colour Kim had direct personal experiences with the stigmatization and discrimination of messages in the media growing up outside of Amsterdam. She noted during this writer’s interview with her that she was impacted by the unidimensional portrayal of different social groups in popular cultures. As she began to critically consider the messages portrayed in the media during these same teenage years, she remembers being strongly affected by a documentary about Dutch street culture produced by a woman of colour. Kim remembered that she was struck by the intentional misleading  nature of the documentaries’ footage and reporting and that the journalist  ‘spun’ the final product towards her views, which Kim shares were stereotypy and discriminatory (Dankoor, 2015, personal communication). Personal discrimination, personal experiences of stereotyping and a defining moment led to the identification of an unjust equilibrium, namely that media producers show consumers what the producer wants them to see and that the average media consumer has no idea they are being misled. Kim Dankoor’s passion for recognizing the imbalance in media continued throughout her post-graduate studies and now with the development of the KIM brand and platform, she has ways to improve and release the potential for critical analysis of media for all youth. Kim recognizes the importance of hip hop music within youth culture and seeks to use the study of this medium to create awareness about the construction of media messages. This is the topic of her most recent research at Georgia State University.

KIM’s key activities offer social value in an entrepreneurial fashion. KIM is not a social service as it does not provide direct service and its’ scope is global not local. KIM is not a platform purely for social activism. While many of KIM’s business pursuits promote awareness of marginalization and oppression, KIM’s main goal is not direct social activism (Martin & Osberg, 2007). Instead it can be said that Kim Dankoor and KIM take direct action through personal and academic pursuits to change the equilibrium in society. KIM’s  motto, “It’s hard to be what you hardly see” summarizes the current impact of messages in the media and offers insight to the social impact that Kim Dankoor is currently making through KIM. KIM gives a voice to the messages in media that are rarely heard. KIM purports that new generations of children and youth must see alternate messages regarding sexuality, sexual orientation, ethnicity or culture so that they can aspire to be like those role models.

KIM currently uses a variety of social media platforms to promote messages of diversity in media and during the interview Kim noted that “KIM fights against stereotypes of all social groups. Even the dominant social group (heterosexual, white men)…”. She shared that social media in combination with published interviews created a snowball effect in the promotion of KIM and its foci. Kim Dankoor dreams that “personally, it would be of great satisfaction (and inspiration for others) if I can create a successful – financially and social impact wise -, social business; so that people can see that I didn’t choose the safe route, but that I had a dream and it finally came true”. The KIM-chart will act as a barometer for producers and consumers to critically analyze the media and its messages and KIM continues to advocate on behalf of all marginalized social groups.

Kim Dankoor can be called a social entrepreneur. She is an “idea champion” (Bornstein & Davis, n.d) who challenges media producers and consumers alike to critically engage with media, its messages and its methods of delivery. KIM addresses an injustice in society through the deconstruction of stereotypical or discriminatory messages in media. KIM creatively seeks to bring about a new equilibrium through goal-oriented activities such as journalism, social media and empirical research. One might argue that as a journalist with critical insights regarding media Kim Dankoor is herself a social activist. She uses her own skills in an entrepreneurial fashion and this may be considered a hybrid model of social entrepreneurship (Martin & Osberg, 2007). Regardless, KIM the business of critical insights in media as well as Kim the social entrepreneur are changing the world of media messages for a new generation.

 

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