Instead of using a venture solely to make a profit, they aim at simultaneously impacting a society and regulating positive change. The success of such an endeavour is, therefore, measured not just on the basis of balance sheets, but on the effect it has had on a community.
Social entrepreneurship demands the same confidence, motivation and innovation as any other business, but in a manner that prioritises social development and the simultaneous creation of social and economic values. Hence, more than making a profit, it amounts to executing social change by means of unique solutions that help a community overcome established obstacles.
By definition, most social entrepreneurs take on problems that are ideally in the domain of government concern. Instead of waiting around for problems to be solved or brushing them under the carpet as many governments and societies are wont to do, they see them as opportunities to effect positive change. Social entrepreneurship is therefore all about combining a vision for a brighter future with the realization that, in order to achieve long-term goals, drastic effort and creative solutions are called for.
Like any other business venture, social entrepreneurship programmes cannot be isolated exercises. Most entrepreneurs, for instance, promote a non-profit organisation in the hope that other individuals and agencies will move in to support the cause and help multiply its benefits across larger sections of society. The extent of success of such endeavours is often based on the amount of collaboration and grassroots involvement they are able to generate.
Furthermore, and just like business ventures, social entrepreneurship projects depend on some degree of risk-taking. Only, in this case, the risk is not limited to financial security but involves social activism and passion. In this context, social entrepreneurship activities may appear to be incredibly perilous, but the risks pay off many times more in terms of their benefits to society.
The Impact on Society
Social entrepreneurship is as important for a growing society as business entrepreneurship is for a developing economy. They are both critical for sustainable development and accelerated inclusive growth.
The significance of their impact on societies can be gauged from the contributions of some eminent social entrepreneurs who are feted for positively and permanently impacting our world. In 19th Century United States, Susan B Anthony led the fight for women’s suffrage and helped establish equal rights for them. In 20th Century India, Vinoba Bhave founded the Land Gift Movement that caused the redistribution of more than 700,000 acres of land to the country’s poorest. Italian physician Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952) determined deficiencies in the early educational system and developed a new approach that continues to be relevant across the world today. Before her, compatriot Florence Nightingale helped establish the first school for nurses and fought to improve hospital conditions. Birth control activist Margaret Sanger encouraged family planning around the world with her Planned Parenthood Federation of America. These and other social entrepreneurs have made extraordinary contributions in shaping the modern world.