To one of the entrepreneurs I’ve good fortune to meet. For that she finds time to dream big on fostering empathy of humanity in between of work, studies and basketball practices.
In the past people called them visionaries, humanitarians, philanthropists, reformers, saints or great leaders. Nowadays social entrepreneurs emerge from every walk of life.
Who is a social entrepreneur?
To put it simply it’s individual, who refuses to accept status quo, approaches huge public challenges with new perspective, and uses entrepreneurial business techniques to address them.
Where the social entrepreneurs come from?
Social entrepreneurs have been active from always, but the tidal wave of people passionate about their ideas and turning them into reality peaked together with so called “Millennials”, this is the generation that you the most probably represent (at least the blog’s statistics say so). “Millennials” are people, who were born between 1980-1994, and in terms of global qualities are described as energetic, optimistic, idealistic and committed to creation of humane and just world. Personally I like when they are called “idealistic, but pragmatic”.
What differs “Millenials” from other generations?
I like the explanation made on “Millenials” by D. Burstein in “Fast Future”, who refers to 1970’s futurist A. Toffler introducing famous concept of the “future shock”. Future shock was about changes taking place so quickly that people and institutions couldn’t keep up with new circumstances. And there we go, decades later “future shock” is day-to-day reality, which is the only reality “Millenials” know. For “Millenials” there is no “future shock”. It’s a “present shock”. So it’s not a big deal.
Now you know where today social entrepreneurs recruit from. This is the group which is ignited by different kind of fuel and is able to give and achieve more. No surprise that global companies want to at least understand what motivates “Millenials”. As. in case of my previous employer who did global researchhow “Millenials” operate to create job places enabling them to utilize their full potential, incl. numerous social engagement initiatives that let them fight for righteous causes.
O.k., but what concrete examples of social entrepreneurship are there?
Just take a look at Fabio Rosa, who brought electricity to countryside in Brazil, Vera Cordeiro, who founded Association for Children’s Health providing medical services to poor Brazilians or Van Kirk, who created in the US Community Enterprise Solutions working with micro-entrepreneurs in villages on identifying products and services needed at underserviced areas to grow and successfully providing them with water purifiers, solar panels and vegetable seeds.
Is then social entrepreneurship about the profit?
Whereas business entrepreneur’s goal is to create profit, social entrepreneur focuses in the first place in improving the society. However, sometimes you can do both. As explained by J. Elkington and P. Hartigan in “The Power of Unreasonable People” social entrepreneurship business models includes among others “leveraged nonprofits” – with no material profit goals, “hybrid nonprofits” – mixing nonprofit approaches with for-profit aspects and finally “social businesses”, which is about for profit undertakings organized to achieve social goals.
So how you could work on your social entrepreneurship concept? A piece of advice comes from B. Schwartz, author of “Rippling. How Social Innovation Throughout the World”.
B. Schwartz advises to start with a “Purpose”, this is a clear intent to acts as a guiding compass of whole undertaking. Having the “Purpose” combine it with “Passion”, as it will be your main motivation fuel. Try to work out a “Pattern” for creation of idea that is scalable and which other people can easily duplicate. Last, but probably the most important thing you need to think about, is “Participation” and inspiring others to make your dream a reality.
So where can you get inspired and learn social entrepreneurship? If you are an American( blog’s statistics say that with high degree of certainty you are from the US), take a look at Office of Social Innovation created by Barack Obama to leverage social entrepreneurs’ innovative ideas into national government policy making.
For me one of the best knowledge sources, but also a fountain of friends I can go to the moon and back with is social entrepreneurs association “Ashoka: Innovators for the Public” set up by Bill Drayton in 1978. I remember Ashoka founding scholarship for people having regular jobs, who would every week utilize just a couple of hours of their time to spread their social innovation zest. Nowadays Ashoka recruits volunteers also via LinkedIn. By the way not many people know, who Ashoka was, so let me share with you that he was pioneer of social change in South Asia, who lived in 3rd century B.C.
But let’s say you have an idea how to change the world, you’ve gathered know-how and built network of contacts, but where is the money for a start? For this take a look at Schwab Foundation of Social Entrepreneurship or talk to your central government to consider creation of “Social Innovation” public funds program as the Polish government did, enabling people to finance meaningful ideas that tackle real world challenges.