What is Social entrepreneurship?
The world we live in is a fast paced world and everyone here is engaged in a rat race for survival. The irony is that, while the developed countries are gaining more prosperity, the less developed sectors are still lagging behind troubled with manifold problems such as poverty, hunger, illiteracy, to name a few. But why should prosperity touch only the developed societies and why should the underdeveloped societies stay behind? This is a calling for making a difference, to bring about a change, and what’s better than Social Entrepreneurship to meet this end! Social entrepreneurs are the new agents of change. Unlike regular entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship comes with a twist – it is the fusion of business with social causes. Social Entrepreneurs are trailblazers or pioneers harboring a different vision altogether- to see a ray of light where no one else can, to take matters into their own hands and to provide people with hope when there seems to be none. They have the unique ability to see the bigger picture and invest their thoughts, efforts, and resources in a way that allows them to realize their dream of changing the world, one step at a time.
So it’s about time we stopped being couch potatoes, put on our running shoes and hop on the path to change:
See the bigger picture
Social entrepreneurship is all about focusing on the bigger picture and being optimistic. Optimism is imperative to social entrepreneurship because the goal is to solve the seemingly unsolvable problems. This involves taking risks and initiatives like never before. Social entrepreneurs are individuals with precise goals and innovative methods to combat problems. For instance, Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur who founded the Grameen Bank and spearheaded the concept of ‘microfinance’ in order to help free the small scale businessmen in the villages from the clutches of the moneylenders. The concept of microfinance gained popularity steadily and has been iterated in various parts of the world, thus, imparting courage to poor people around the world to start their own ventures.
Impart a new meaning to the business world
Social entrepreneurship, as aforementioned is the merger of business and social causes. Unlike an average entrepreneur whose goal is profit maximization, a social entrepreneur focuses more on creating a difference in the society through their enterprise rather than escalating their profits. They are the ‘Alphas’ of the business world, leading the pack towards the dawn of a better world. We’re all familiar with the name TOMS, but little do we know the story behind this famous brand. TOMS founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie. On a trip to Argentina, Mycoskie was deeply saddened to see the plight of children falling sick as they didn’t have shoes to wear. This inspired him to create TOMS which goes by the motto “One for One”- with every pair of shoes that TOMS sells, a new pair of shoes is donated to a needy child. The company then expanded its good work in the field of eyewear too- a part of the profit that TOMS gains by selling an eyewear is used to save or restore the eyesight for people in developing countries.
Shout out to firsthand experiences
Oftentimes it happens so that something happens in our life that touches us or inspires us to do better in life. This is the case with many social entrepreneurs who happen to find their calling after coming face to face with a life altering situation. For instance, Scott Harrison, the founder of the non-profit organization charity:water , found his calling in Liberia where he dedicated two years of his life to serving the downtrodden and marginalized sector. He discovered that what people suffered most was from the lack of clean drinking water and he made it his life’s mission to change this. Since its inception, charity:water has helped to fund over 19000 projects in 24 countries with 100% of its profits used to fund clean water projects, helping billions worldwide.
Infect minds with creative ideas
Just as a huge tree germinates from a tiny seed, so a big change germinates from a small idea. When a social entrepreneur is successful in transforming his idea into a reality that goes on to create a huge impact on the lives of a large number of people, his success story becomes a milestone that paves the way for others. That model is then replicated and gradually scales from local to national to global. Prof.Muhammad Yunus idea of microfinance had such a great impact worldwide, that it inspired Akhtar Hameed Khan who implemented the scheme in developing rural communities in Pakistan. One of Khan’s most successful venture is the Orangi Pilot Project that aimed at helping the squatter communities of the town of Orangi in Pakistan with microfinance to efficiently solve problems related to sanitation, housing, health, family planning and education.
Shoulder the burden
Unlike most of us who on witnessing a problem, pass it on thinking it to be someone else’s headache, social entrepreneurs decide to act responsibly by shouldering the burden to improve the scenario. They are always willing to rise to the occasion and put their bet on trial and error method. Social entrepreneurs act in hope to make a difference, in the process demonstrating the qualities befitting a responsible leader. Sanjit “Bunker” Roy is an Indian social activist and entrepreneur who founded the Barefoot College with the aim of improving the life of women in India while also ensuring their economic empowerment. That Roy’s attempt has been a successful one can be seen in the fact that the college is mostly led and run by women. Fighting for the upliftment of women is the cause that drove Roy to initiate this mission when he too, like others, could have decided to overlook it. Instead, he chose to make the scenario better, thus helping to improve the lives of thousands of women.
Detonate conventional ideas and belief systems
To build something better, one first has to crush the existing foundation. Social entrepreneurs are the detonators of stereotypes and established conventions. The world is faced with myriad problems and clearly, the existing institutions and mindset aren’t going to make it better. New innovations, a new set of beliefs, new approaches are needed to find the solutions to the compelling problems of our world. It is the attempts of social entrepreneurs that actually bear the promises of a better future and it is their success stories that become the source of inspiration for millions throughout the globe.
Social entrepreneurs are the living example of how a small effort of just one person can go a long way to making a great impact in the lives of people, and eventually take on the world. So what are you waiting for? Go on, “be the change”.
Want to read more? 30 Under 30 Social entrepreneurship by Forbes