What is Social Entrepreneurship?
If any phrase can be held synonymous with ‘Ripple’ it is definitely ‘Social Entrepreneurship’. Even in typing it I feel chills and excitement. In keeping it as simple as I can I like to quote Social Entrepreneur, Ian Quinn, in defining a social enterprise as a “for profit business with non-profit objectives”. A for profit entity is established with a business model that has at it’s heart eradicating or addressing a social ill, moral evil, or societal obstacle.
Some of the most notable social enterprises worthy of keeping an eye on are:
BlackGold Biofuel (from my home town, Philadelphia)
Tom’s Shoes (see below)
I found this model on another blog that helps to illustrate the setup of a social enterprise. It’s followed by a short video to sum up the idea.
Model from James M. Helms Journey Blog
I love this type of business because of three specific characteristics:
1. Capitalism-Social Entrepreneurship does not curse or attempt to ‘cure’ capitalism, rather it embraces it. It takes capitalism and redirects its energy and focus away from an individual or corporation and ties it to towards building progress into civilization. (I know there is a professor out there who could sum it up better than I)
2. Social Responsibility- As you will see in a case study of Tom’s shoes, capitalism that embraces social responsibility and addresses global needs motivates and sparks radical change in people. Who ever cared that much about a pair of shoes! Now consumers target their purchasing power where their heart is aching. Someone once said that you can retain information better when you are involved in the process, well here is the platform. Social Entrepreneur’s sparks interest, commitment, and partnership in the heart of young consumers.
3. Sustainability- Can you imaging a marketplace where companies go out of business because they have banished malaria in all of South America? I know that’s an extravagant statement that’s maybe in the clouds. What I love is the empowering effect of social enterprise to engage people to think like this. Examining the what if’s and lending their dollar to these causes. I’m sure there are pitfalls to any business. I’m not building up social enterprise as the cure for everything, not even close. My point is that capitalism as we have known it is about to change and revolutionize. My prayer is that social enterprise can be part of the wave of concern and responsibility (hopefully rational responsibility-the coooks are out there!!) that will better the marketplace for the long term.
Watch the Ripples!
This year I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the Global Leadership Summit where we heard from Blake Mycoskie, the owner of Tom’s Shoes. Here is some highlights from his interview:
I plan on blogging more about social enterprise and its benefits, as well as its downfalls. Please comment and also submit your ideas for future articles.