Social Entrepreneurship: A Booming Trend

Posted on July 16, 2010 in Entrepreneurship

By Arpit Srivastava:

“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”

— Bill Drayton, CEO, chair and founder of Ashoka

Have you ever felt the urge to go out there, to help and change the lives of millions who still live in shanties and huts, perhaps even with no roofs over their heads, with no food to eat?

Ever thought of doing your part for India and the world beyond?

Despite your determination, have you been plagued by the thought that following your urge would probably mean living a life for others, that you won’t be able to make money and live comfortably?

Well, fear not! Look at Social Entrepreneurship as a highly promising option!

Social entrepreneurs are ambitious and persistent people who try to tackle major social issues and bring wide-scale societal change. Rather than leaving societal needs to the government or business sectors, they find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to take new leaps.

Social entrepreneurs often seem to be possessed by their ideas, committing their lives to changing the direction of their field. They are both visionaries and ultimate realists, concerned with the practical implementation of their vision above all else.

Most people confuse social enterprises with social welfare NGOs. However, though both work towards the good of the people, the main difference lies in the fact that NGOs mainly rely on philanthropic donations for their efforts, while social entrepreneurs lead organizations, which generate their own revenue, utilizing most of it for social welfare, leaving some profit for themselves. This model works great as the people working in the organizations can earn for their own needs, and thus be motivated to work hard. Also, many jobs get created for the masses.

Social enterprises, as the organizations led by social entrepreneurs are called, basically look for innovative solutions to solve societal problems, while at the same time making enough profit to sustain the work of the organization, as well as the needs of the hardworking professionals working for it.

An example of a famous social enterprise is the Nobel Peace prize winning microfinance organization, Grameen Bank, started by Prof. Muhammad Yunus.

In their initial stages, social enterprises are often incubated by large companies, which provide the support and the tools that help the entrepreneurs to grow local initiatives into robust and financially sustainable organizations, through scaling or replicating geographically, or reaching out to different groups in the community.

Social Entrepreneurship isn’t really a very recent concept, with its earliest usage dating back to the 1960’s, when it was first coined. One of the largest organizations involved in its promotion is “Ashoka: Innovators for the Public”, which organizes various competitions and programmes, all over the world, to encourage the youth to come up with innovative ideas for social enterprises.

These days, a number of social enterprises are springing up everywhere, most founded by young people, often fresh out of college, with many individuals in their youth seen opting to join and work for such enterprises, over other high paid conventional jobs, thus joining the rest of the passionate workforce in brainstorming and developing low-cost innovative solutions for providing rural employment, improving living standards etc.

With more and more organizations in corporate sector looking towards social enterprises, as a means of carrying out their Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) policy and improving their public image, the field of social entrepreneurship looks promising, with excellent opportunities available, which provide financial as well as moral satisfaction.

Most of the top universities in India and abroad that offer courses in Management and Business, also offer Social Entrepreneurship courses.

A Social Entrepreneur should have excellent communication skills, strong leadership qualities and should be able to present ideas that are user-friendly, understandable, ethical, and which engage widespread support in order to maximize the number of local people that will stand up, seize their idea, and implement with it.

In other words, every leading social entrepreneur is a mass recruiter of local “change makers”–a role model proving that citizens who channel their passion into action can do almost anything.

So, Are You Ready To Be The Change India Needs?