DOT's 2018 Youth Unconference
3 days, 13 countries, 130 daring young social innovators
If you have been hearing the words “social entrepreneur” a lot lately, you are not alone. Social entrepreneurship is a new way of doing business, one that is gaining popularity worldwide.
But who and what is a social entrepreneur, exactly?
Social entrepreneurs have many characteristics in common with traditional entrepreneurs. Both are trying to fill a market need or close a gap in an industry. Both have chosen a less conventional job path, and are doing something that has more financial, professional, and personal risk. Both are often highly creative problem solvers.
The main difference is this: social entrepreneurship measures success not just in the amount of money earned, but in the impact that is made.
That is where the “social” part of social entrepreneurship comes from. Social entrepreneurship is when a person uses business knowledge and innovation to positively impact the daily lives of their friends, family, and community. Having lived in those communities, social entrepreneurs are more familiar with local challenges. And because of that, they are the best people to find the solutions.
A social enterprise does not need to be complicated, but must focus on improving life for a person or group of people. For example:
See the positive impact made by each of these projects?
Many innovators do not realize they are social entrepreneurs. Most of the time this is because social entrepreneurship still lags behind traditional entrepreneurship when it comes to interest and knowledge.
There is also the fear that doing good through a business or organization means you are sacrificing the opportunity to earn capital and create a livelihood for yourself. This is not true. A social enterprise is still a business and a livelihood. What is different is that in making money, the business owner also creates positive social change. Not only that, but many investors and grant applications look specifically to social enterprises to find projects that are savvy business ideas but also smart investments for the community.
Think of your own community project or idea. Based on the description above, are you a social entrepreneur? If not, how could you include an aspect of social good into your business?
“Social entrepreneurship is when a person uses business knowledge and innovation to positively impact the daily lives of their friends, family, and community.”