Social entrepreneurship is the process of recognizing and resourcefully pursuing opportunities to create social value. Social entrepreneurs are innovative, resourceful, and results-oriented. They draw upon the best thinking in both the business and nonprofit worlds to develop strategies that maximize their social impact. These entrepreneurial leaders operate in all kinds of organizations: large and small; new and old; religious and secular; nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid. These organizations comprise the “social sector.”
Social entrepreneurship is all about recognizing the social problems and achieving social change by employing entrepreneurial principles, processes and operations. It is all about making research to completely define a particular social problem and then organizing, creating and managing a social venture to attain the desired change. The change may or may not include a thorough elimination of a social problem. It may be a lifetime process focusing on the improvement of the existing circumstances.
While general and common business entrepreneurship means taking a lead to open up a new business or diversifying the existing business, social entrepreneurship mainly focuses on creating social capital without measuring the performance in profit or return in monetary terms. The entrepreneurs in this field are associated with non-profit sectors and organizations. But this does not eliminate the need of making a profit. After all, entrepreneurs need capital to carry on with the process and bring a positive change in society.
Along with social problems, social entrepreneurship also focuses on environmental problems. Child Rights foundations, plants for the treatment of waste products and women empowerment foundations are a few examples of social ventures. Social entrepreneurs can be those individuals who are associated with non-profit and non-government organizations that raise funds through community events and activities.
Social entrepreneurship is a kind of entrepreneurship initiative that aims at taking up a social problem for bringing about a transformation in the same. The person who takes up the challenge is called a social entrepreneur and he/she uses the principle of entrepreneurship with the intent of creating social capital and not being essentially profit-centred.
The aim of social entrepreneurship is to promote the cause of social and environmental goals that have an impact in either in the present or the times to come. Such entrepreneurs are generally a part of or associated in some way with some nonprofit organisations (NGO’s). Although profit-making is also an aspect of this concept it may not be the sole purpose of the organization.
TYPES OF SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS
When it comes to driving change through social entrepreneurship, there are many definitions. These individuals and companies represent a vast cross-section of what they are trying to accomplish with their businesses. They also differ in terms of their strategies and goals for bringing about social change.
1. The Community Social Entrepreneur
This entrepreneur seeks to serve the social needs of a community within a small geographical area. These entrepreneurial initiatives could be anything from creating job opportunities for marginalized members to building a community center. Social entrepreneurs on this scale are usually individuals or small organizations. Microfinance loans are one example – offering financial solutions to local people with no access to banking.
These entrepreneurs work directly with members of the community. This means more vested interests and a slower decision process, but it comes with the advantage of long-term solutions. Both community members and local organizations are likely to sustainably carry on with the project even without the entrepreneur’s direct involvement.
This is where most people start, as a change in your own community is instantly visible. You can see the results of such social entrepreneurship almost immediately and talk to people you are helping directly. All you need to do to start this type of endeavour is find a local isolated social problem and apply yourself to solving it.
2. The Non-Profit Social Entrepreneur
These entrepreneurs are focused on social, not material gain, meaning they prioritize social well-being over traditional business needs. They reinvest any profits into the business to facilitate the further expansion of services.
Non-profit social entrepreneurs are usually companies and organizations that choose to use their power for social good. The story of Goodwill Industries serves as a great example: In 1902, the company started employing poor residents to work with donated goods, reinvesting all profits into job training programs.
These entrepreneurs are usually more likely to meet their stated goals due to readily available funding. However, they are also dependent on its successful generation for social good.
This path is usually taken by more business-savvy entrepreneurs who want to use their skills for creating change. While the results often take longer to manifest, they can take effect on a larger scale. Joining a local non-profit or training program is usually a reliable way to start.
3. The Transformational Social Entrepreneur
These people are focused on creating a business that can meet the social needs that governments and other businesses aren’t currently meeting. The transformational category is often what non-profits evolve to with sufficient time and growth. They become larger organizations with rules and regulations – sometimes growing to the point of working with or getting integrated into governmental bodies.
They specifically empower other impact-driven entrepreneurs to create positive change. This then creates a system of interconnected businesses focused on social benefits.
Transformational entrepreneurs have an easier time getting top talent for these efforts. However, they are also bound by a web of rules and regulations that larger organizations have to create.
Such organizations usually recruit and foster talent in-house. If you apply for a job opportunity or volunteer position and show social entrepreneurship skills, they are likely to help you enrol in a mentorship program and facilitate your growth from there.
4. The Global Social Entrepreneur
These entrepreneurs seek to completely change social systems to meet major social needs globally. It’s often where big companies end up when they realize their social responsibility and begin concentrating on the positive change as opposed to just profits. It’s also where the largest charity organizations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, stand.
The global need in question can be anything from free access to education to clean water. This is usually a lofty goal that spans continents and links many organizations and interests together. However, the trade-off is in scrutiny – if global social entrepreneurs fail to meet the needs and gather sufficient support, their failure has a bigger impact than those of smaller organizations.
These organizations are usually tied to a particular cause and work with other social entrepreneurs to make it happen. As such, you are more likely to achieve these heights if you connect with other social entrepreneurs and build a global community around solving social issues.
Additionally, there is a growing number of organizations that blend the best for-profit practices with non-profit missions. They fall under all types outlined above, being in different stages of growth and scalability. We suggest finding a cause that works best for you and chart a way forward from there.