For the last 200 years, entrepreneurs have been bettering the world with their innovations and ideas; they contribute to economic growth and changing history with their inventions.
However, most of the time, these individuals were only interested in generating results for their enterprises with little regard for society.
As the emphasis on social responsibility and “giving back to society” grew, a new league of heroes called social entrepreneurs emerged.
These socialpreneurs are driven by a passion for improving society through their business. Even though they do not have superpowers, they could (in some cases) move mountains and enhance the social standing of their fellows through their actions.
Who Is a Social Entrepreneur?
A social entrepreneur is a person whose initiatives lead to solving social or environmental issues. Although he embarks on his entrepreneurial journey, his actions focus on solving the community’s problems. In many cases, the ventures created and run by these individuals target the “underdog” population and attempt to decrease the gap between those who have access to social services and those who don’t.
To give you an idea of the breath of the social entrepreneurship landscape, consider this:
Bill Drayton, Shiza Shahid, Scott Harrison, and Mark Koska are all social entrepreneurs working for a diverse range of social issues.
Types of Social Entrepreneurship
Social entrepreneurship can take many forms because of a unique focus on balancing the economics and the social responsibility aspects. A few common types are:
Non-Profit: These organizations focus on a social cause with all the profit going back to society. As a result, these “businesses” often get exemptions in the local tax laws.
For-Profit: This business model aims to earn profit but contributes a portion of the profit to a cause. A typical example is where businesses pass on a percentage of the sales to a charity or a social empowerment project.
Co-Operative: Community members start these businesses for their community. These projects usually provide employment opportunities for the community and produce products or services that benefit the community.
Entrepreneur vs Socialpreneur
Social entrepreneurs are different from entrepreneurs because of the differences between the end goals and objectives of the projects. Socialpreneurs are less likely to define their success in terms of revenue or profit; instead, they measure their success through actions that benefit the communities and cater to a social cause.
Socialpreneurs utilize their profits to benefit society and combine their passion for a social cause with a viable business model. The objective is to improve and uplift the community rather than wealth creation.
On the other hand, an entrepreneur’s success is measured by financial metrics, which define how much revenue their businesses can generate annually.
While both recognize market opportunities and the need to innovate for creating goods and services that fulfill market needs, the main difference is how they measure the ultimate success of their ventures. Success for a socialpreneur is defined by how their venture benefits society. For an entrepreneur, success is all about profits and growth.
Role of a Social Entrepreneur
Social entrepreneurs are mission-driven individuals; they live to serve the community and see community service as a source of satisfaction. Their vision, leadership capabilities, and initiatives position them as change-makers who bring like-minded people on a common platform to address a social need.
As change-makers, they focus on the social cause and dream of eliminating a social problem and creating a better world for all. They identify a mission, engage in uplifting a community, consider themselves accountable to the people and the community they serve.
Emotions often fuel their objectives and goals, and they make it their ultimate desire to fight for social or environmental causes such as:
- Creating better employment opportunities for the underprivileged
- Educating the illiterate
- Providing and facilitating better health care for all
- Eradicating infectious diseases
- Providing proper shelter for the homeless
- Eliminating Poverty
Take Bill Gates, for example; His foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, collaborated with the World Health Organization(WHO) and started a global polio eradication initiative (GPEI) in 1988 and has contributed approximately $3.7 billion to eradicating polio globally.
Since his initiative, the global rate of polio has decreased enormously, with just a few cases being reported annually.
Rolex is another excellent example of the idea. The brand was founded by Hans Wilsdorf, who transferred all of the company shares to Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization. The foundation donates all its profits to charities and institutes like The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative (which supports talented young artists)
and The Rolex Awards for Enterprise (which recognizes extraordinary men and women from around the globe who are working seamlessly on making the World a better place).
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Ideas for Social Entrepreneurs
There are many ideas you can work towards contributing to a social mission. We have shortlisted the following to get you started:
- Donate books to the needy.
- Build a restaurant that gives leftover food to the deserving.
- Plant trees to reduce the carbon footprint.
- Start campaigns to clean the ocean.
- Start a free or low-cost transportation network for the community.
- Create skill training centers to enable individuals to start earning through these skills.
- Start a campaign that collects used clothes from the community and gives them to people in need.
- Build community centers where members can organize and conduct events at a low cost.
- Give interest-free loans to individuals to start businesses
- Facilitate in providing clean drinking water to those who don’t have access to it.
- Provide medical supplies and resources to underdeveloped areas.
- Build recycling plants
- Build houses for the homeless.
- Create scholarship programs that fund the education of talented individuals.
- Create stores that provide daily essentials for a low cost.
Examples of Social Entrepreneurs
Warren Buffet established the Buffett Foundation in 1964. His foundation funds various charitable organizations, and he has donated $2.9 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway stocks to non-profit organizations. He has announced that after his death, 85% percent of his wealth will be distributed among various charitable organizations.
Matt Damon is a popular American actor and philanthropist who has co-founded Water.org, which aims to facilitate developing countries with access to clean drinking water and sanitation. The organization has provided more than 16 million people with access to clean drinking water and sanitation.
Ann Lesley Cotton is a Welsh entrepreneur who has received the Order of the British Empire for her contributions to educating young women in rural Africa through her organization Camfed (Campaign for Female Education).
Camfed has been endorsed by popular actors like Morgan Freeman, Emma Watson, Singer Rihanna, and Former US President Bill Clinton.
Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur who is well known as the founder of Grameen Bank. He has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions. His bank provides micro-loans to deserving people without requiring collateral. An interesting fact about the bank is the majority of the “customers” are women, and the loan return rate is approximately 97%. His philosophy is you should enable individuals to start earning for themselves instead of giving them charity.
Dr. Muhammad Amjad Saqib
Dr.Muhammad Amjad Saqib hails from Pakistan. He founded the Akhuwat Foundation in 2001. Like Grameen Bank, Akhuwat Foundation also provides microloans to deserving individuals. Akhuwat has distributed approximately 4.5 million interest-free loans amounting to $798 million to over 3 million families across Pakistan.
Want to Become a Successful Social Entrepreneur? Here’s How
People who have a knack for social work and want to pursue social entrepreneurship don’t always know where to start. Here are a few steps you could follow in your journey to becoming a socialpreneur.
Follow Your Passion
You should find a cause that motivates you. If you are passionate about something, you will find a way to resolve the problems in the niche. It is the passion that drives us to go beyond the limits and achieve the impossible.
Identify and Solve a Problem
Being a stakeholder, you should step up and identify problems that deprive community members of necessities. With a clear guiding vision, proper planning, and execution, you can take care of any problem.
Connect with Community Members
A community includes like-minded people dedicated to a particular cause. If you can connect to those who share the same passion, you can share your ideas and collaborate with these members and achieve your desired social outcome and results.
Do a SWOT Analysis
Your social enterprise is impacted by internal and external forces that determine your ability to execute your goals. You need to conduct a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats) analysis to understand how your social enterprise will adapt to the current and changing environment.
SWOT-analysis helps in determining your strengths and opportunities that guide you towards your goals and identify your weaknesses and threats to reduce the chances of failure.
Formulate a Plan of Action
Once you have identified a problem, construct a plan of action to apply your vision and ideologies to resonate with a possible solution to that problem, make decisions, allocate resources, and distribute responsibilities to team members to achieve remarkable outcomes.
Evaluate Your Performance
Evaluation is a core process in recognizing one’s failures and success. You need to assess yourself based on the expectations and goals that you set for yourself. Identify your failure and improve the area of gaps in your performance, and if you have succeeded, mark those key elements and factors that contributed to your success.
Reach out to your supporters to give you feedback; since they are like-minded souls and have passed through a similar path, their opinion will provide you with a positive set of guidelines to use in your social endeavor. Their criticism will turn out to be supportive and will direct you towards a successful path to scaling your social enterprise.
Social entrepreneurship is now a revolution happening across the World. Globally, people join and contribute with their innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions to tackle social and environmental challenges.
Implement these practices in your journey and join the league of social entrepreneurs who revolutionized the world with their capabilities and are on the right path to a better future. Remember that every step you take is a step towards a more sustainable, brighter, and healthier world.