It is a reality that today, many countries deal with hunger and poverty, conflict and inequality, and the whole world is experiencing a massive climate change. Apparently, the people governing a country are already unable to fully resolve these problems because human greed gets in the way, corrupting the workflows and processes of government systems and business exchanges. Perhaps street activism already ran its full course and humanity needs a new form of activism to recreate a peaceful and healthy world. So where does social entrepreneurship come in?
What is Social Entrepreneurship?
Social entrepreneurship can be considered the new form of activism. It is a form of protest because instead of starting up enterprises with the initial motive to gain profit, enterprises are now created with the mission to create a positive social impact, wherein business profit and wealth only comes in secondary. With new and innovative ways to resolve long standing problems, social entrepreneurship can be the key to transform the world we live in. It is unfortunate though that it is still misunderstood in different aspects in various industries. Although technology can definitely come into play to help people collaborate towards a common cause with which the social enterprise is built.
Who is the New Breed of Social Entrepreneurs?
The new breed of social entrepreneurs are people who have the passion, determination and courage to take on a social problem and resolve it with an innovative and groundbreaking solution that is inspired by modern technology. The gains they will make out of the business comes in as secondary because their true motivation is to bring forth change. More often than not, the new breed of social entrepreneurs possesses a certain charm that easily attracts other people to join in their advocacy, thus, finding the strength in their enterprise through numbers. Their collaboration and communication is often through online platforms such as social media. They are people with a social mission: a mission to take on the world’s biggest problems.
The new breed of social entrepreneurs is driving in a different direction because instead of relying merely on fundraising and grants, they start and build their own enterprises to support their cause. Many of these start-up social enterprises leverage on the free resources offered in the digital marketplace. They collaborate with other people who share the same passion. Trvst is a great example because they have a platform where anybody can be a changemaker and pitch in ideas in their target field of action. It is where people can put their visions into action, with the goal of using their skills for social good.
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The most famous social entrepreneurs include a civil rights leader for Womens’ rights, a founder of a movement for land allocation, a pioneer in education, a person whose mission was to improve hospital conditions, and a leader in Planned Parenthood. They are the early social entrepreneurs who gave light and confidence to the new breed of entrepreneurs to fight for their cause with passion, taking advantage of the advancement in modern technology, blending in market capitalism as a source of funds for their passion.
Hence, social entrepreneurship grew alongside the birth of the digital age. Online presence made information and communication more accessible to various people, allowing those with a similar passion collaborate with a cause.
What are the Characteristics of Social Enterprises?
Social enterprises set up by social entrepreneurs have three distinct characteristics:
- Innovative. A social enterprise can be organized in different industries such as education or employment, healthcare or engineering, and environment. But in any industry, a social enterprise should offer something new, perhaps a new idea, workflow, product, or service, with the goal of creating a positive impact on their target cause. Innovative products, methods, and services can leverage on different factors such as technology while considering the existing best practices in the industry.
- Openness to Learning. This characteristic is tied up with being innovative. In order to discover something new, a social enterprise must be open to suggestions, studies, and new learnings that might have been brought up before, but were not focused on. Social entrepreneurship is a continuous learning process that aims to deliver solutions to a need that is neglected. Thereby, testing the initial concept and bringing forth improvements brought about by new learning is also a continuous process.
- Values. More than the gains and profit, social enterprises are driven by values. Social entrepreneurs make their cause a life mission. Hence, their values are rooted and centered into their passion. Most social entrepreneurs even leave their lucrative careers with posts as company CEOs, in the desire to find more purpose and meaning, being driven by what they believe in.
What are the Organizational Models of Social Enterprises?
There are three basic models of social enterprises, namely non-profit, for-profit, and hybrid, but all of which are geared with the same goal of resolving a specific need.
A non-profit organizational model is somehow dependent on benevolent funding, especially in its early stages. In the long run, however, sponsorships from partners sharing the same passion can emerge. A for-profit organizational model, on the other hand, generates a certain gain, which is maximized not for shareholders, but for the social cause. Finally, a hybrid organizational model includes both funding from benevolent sponsors, and to some degree, profits from sales of their goods and services.
Although social enterprises aim to earn a profit, this is only a secondary goal. What sets social enterprises apart from market capitalists is that their primary goal is to bring forth a positive change in society, more than doing business for monetary gains.
It cannot be denied that the social enterprise set up by the new breed of social entrepreneurs is the new business model for the main reason that social enterprises connect people to their life’s purpose. With their passion for their cause being their drive, people are kept motivated with a sense of fulfillment and lasting happiness. Additionally, social enterprises help people discover the life purpose of other people through meaningful collaboration with the objective of reaching the same goal. Finally, consumers scream the need for a social enterprise.