If you haven't already heard of the term 'Social Entrepreneurship' (SE), you will most likely begin to hear of it more and more as time goes on as its popularity is increasing in tandem with consumers wanting to make more conscious choices. Social Entrepreneurs currently compromise roughly only 5% of all the entrepreneurs in the world, they pioneering something that is still quite unique!
So, what exactly is Social Entrepreneurship?
In this blog, I'll take you through the basic premise of the concept as well as what a Social Entrepreneur does and will include some examples of SE.
“Social entrepreneurs are society’s change agents, creators of innovations that disrupt the status quo and transform our world for the better.” - The Skoll Foundation
SE is an approach taken by start-up companies, individuals, entrepreneurs or groups in which to apply solutions to socio-cultural and/or environmental matters of their choice. In general, Social Entrepreneurs aim to enhance the visions for change that are often held and implemented within the voluntary sector in regards to social, cultural or environmental matters, for instance poverty alleviation, community projects and health care assistance to name a few.
Whereas for-profit entrepreneurs strive for profit, revenues and stock price increases as a way to measure performance success, Social Entrepreneurs tend to be either non-profits or are motivated by for-profit goals combined with creating a positive return to society. They are willing to take on the risk and the extra work it takes to implement positive change as a result of their initiatives. As a general rule of thumb when it comes to SE: impact first, profits second.
There are certainly times when enterprises will be set up by Social Entrepreneurs that are designed to make profit; however, this profit is generated specifically to support the goals of the SE organization in question. An example of this would be a local, Dallas organization, Cafe Momentum ( www.cafemomentum.org) Café Momentum, a Dallas-based restaurant and culinary training facility, transforms young lives by equipping our community’s most at-risk youth with life skills, education and employment opportunities to help them achieve their full potential. Another example, is Warby Parker (www.warbyparker.com): High quality prescription eyewear at a fraction of the usual high price who partners with non-profits that work to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, another is distributed to one the 15% of people in the world who can't access or afford glasses.
Another positive aspect of SE is that extensive implementation of ethical practices such as conscious consumerism, corporate social responsibility and impact investing (impact investments provide capital to address social/environmental issues) enhance the success of these initiatives. The ethical nature behind this is very refreshing as many people are growing sceptical and tired of for-profit companies that don't demonstrate strong moral principles. Many entrepreneurs are also finding that running entirely commercially oriented businesses is neither fulfilling nor very accepted in today's world so they are working to pave the way for change.
In the last decade, the internet helped facilitate SE largely via social media and online social networking. Through such websites, Social Entrepreneurs can reach people from all over the world who share common goals and can begin online collaborations as well as spreading information about the causes, raising awareness and also make use of crowdfunding opportunities. In this respect, the internet proves to be an extremely advantageous tool for such initiatives as it helps further these socially beneficial enterprises.
The internet is a great way to find Social Entrepreneurs in your area if you would like to help by supporting these kinds of businesses and participate in making a difference.
"Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want." - Anne Lappe