What is social entrepreneurship? How to be a social entrepreneur?
By Steven Bennett
Social entrepreneurship is the act of using business to serve society and create solutions that tackle social issues. Placing the welfare and needs of society above the needs of shareholders and profit increases.
What is a social enterprise?
A social enterprise operates in a very similar way to any other business, by providing products or services at market value with the aim of making a profit. The difference between a social enterprise and a typical enterprise is the way in which they use this profit.
Whereas a traditional enterprise focuses on generating profits for the benefits of its owners, a social enterprise uses its profits to improve the lives of people in the community by providing access to goods, investment, training and job opportunities.
Profit or non-profit
There are no rules or definitions that state whether a social enterprise has to be for profit or non-profit. The way a social enterprise handles its turnover is entirely up to them.
The opinions on how a social enterprise however may differ. Whereas some have the opinion that non-profit is the right way for a social enterprise to operate, others would argue that making a profit gives a social enterprise a much better chance of sustaining themselves and the good that they do.
Does a social entrepreneur make money?
Social entrepreneurs generally set up their business for the same financial reasons a normal entrepreneur would. Profit however, tends not to be the only priority.
Social entrepreneurs often begin their enterprises with the needs of the community first. Providing solutions for social issues and improving the lives of others. The financial rewards that come from these ventures however, are what often make social entrepreneurship extra appealing.
By focusing on both community and profit, social entrepreneurs are able to create organisations through which everyone can benefit. From the owner and employees through to the community and end consumer.
How to begin your journey in social entrepreneurship
If you are passionate about starting a business and tackling issues within a community, social entrepreneurship may be for you. The question is, how do you get started? To help you on your journey here are four questions you should consider.
What are you passionate about?
Are you passionate about cooking? Making furniture? or do you love Teaching? On the flip side, are there any issues that you feel strongly about? By combining your skills with a passion for a particular social issue you can build a platform that your new social enterprise can be based upon.
What are you good at?
What are your strengths and how can you use them to start and grow your social enterprise? You may be an excellent communicator or have the skills to craft a product or offer a service. Think about the things you are good at you can apply them to your business.
Also, think about your weaknesses, do you have the time and opportunity to strengthen them or is it best to bring in others to fill these roles. Completing a SWOT analysis is always good for identifying your strengths and weaknesses.
What social issues can you help with?
What are the social issues you feel you could help with? Unemployment, education opportunities, access to products or services? Find a social issue that resonates with you and think about how your business can help tackle those problems.
Can your business be profitable and still help your cause?
Research the potential of your business and establish If there is a need for the products or services you are considering offering. Dows your business show the potential of making profit? If so, will the social aspects affect its profitability?
Research each and every area of your business until you know it inside out. Make connections and fill any gaps you have in the knowledge of both the community and business model you are considering. If everything still looks good, maybe it’s time to take that first step into social entrepreneurship.
As you can see, social entrepreneurship can be extremely rewarding. From the positive change you can have on society to the potential financial rewards, being a social entrepreneur can give you all the fulfilment you need from a business.
What are your thoughts on social entrepreneurship? Do you think it’s a positive step for business or one that causes distractions? We would love to hear from you.