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Defining Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship means to combine the innovation, resourcefulness, and opportunities to handle critical environmental and social challenges.

So the key concepts are the innovation, system change, and market orientation.

Another definition says that social entrepreneurship is:

  • A term that defines a unique approach to social and economic problems, an approach that cuts the disciplines and sectors grounded in some specific values and processes common to every social entrepreneur, independent of his area of expertise, like health, education, human rights, welfare reform, environment, agriculture, workers’ rights, and economic development, etc.
  • About applying the innovative, practical, and sustainable approach to benefit the society in general, with a focus on those who are poor and marginalized.
  • An approach that keeps the social entrepreneurs apart from the other crowd of people and organizations who have dedicated their time to social improvements.

A social entrepreneur focuses on transforming practices and systems that are the root cause of marginalization, poverty, the accompanying loss of human rights, and environmental deterioration. In doing so, they may set up “for profit” or “not for profit” organizations, and in other cases, their main objective is to develop a sustainable system change.

Social entrepreneurs have some common traits and are as follows:

  • A solid belief in the capacity of the people to contribute to social and economic development.
  • An energetic passion for making it complete.
  • An innovative approach to a social problem, using market force and principles, coupled with determination, allows to break away from the constraints set by ideology, or any field of discipline, and push them to take risks.
  • A zeal to monitor and measure their impact. They have high standards, especially relating to their organization’s efforts in response to the communities they are engaged with. Data, quantitative and qualitative, are the key tools, guiding feedback and improvements.

What about Organizational Models?

Leveraged nonprofit Ventures

The entrepreneurs set up a nonprofitable organization to adopt the innovation that addresses a government or market failure. By doing this, the entrepreneurs engage with a society, including private/ public organizations, to forward the innovation via a multiplier effect. These ventures depend on the philanthropic funding, but the long term sustainability is enhanced.

Hybrid nonprofit Ventures

The entrepreneurs set up an organization (nonprofit), but the model includes some cost recovery via sales of goods/ services to a section of institutions, either public or private, as well as to population groups. Usually, they set up many legal entities for the earning of an income and expenditures in a favorable structure. To sustain transformation activities and address the client’s needs, who are marginalized and poor, the entrepreneurs mobilize other funding resources from public or philanthropic sectors.

Social Business Ventures

The entrepreneurs set up a for-profit business or entity to provide a social product or service. As profits are generated ideally, the major goal is not to increase financial returns for stakeholders but to enhance social venture and find people in need. The entrepreneurs of social business venture find investors who want to combine social and financial returns on investments.

Social entrepreneurs are united because of their ability to:

  • Set up a mission to create/ sustain social and commercial values.
  • Recognize and pursue latest opportunities to serve that mission.
  • Engage themselves in a process of innovation, learning, and adaptation.
  • Act bravely without being limited by current resources.
  • Exhibited a great sense of accountability to serve and for creating outcomes.
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About Maryum Afzal

Maryum Afzal

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