Social entrepreneurs have always existed. In the past, they were called visionaries, humanitarians, philanthropists, reformers, saints, or simply great leaders. Attention was paid to their courage, compassion, and vision, but rarely to the practical aspects of their accomplishments.
Typical social entrepreneurs can be described as:
Pragmatic visionaries who achieve large-scale, systemic, and sustainable social change through a new invention, a different approach, a more rigorous application of known technologies or strategies, or a combination of these.
Social entrepreneurs share common attitudes such as:
- An unwavering belief in the innate capacity of all people to contribute meaningfully to economic and social development.
- A driving passion to make positive social change happen.
- A practical but innovative stance to social problems, often using market principles and forces, coupled with dogged determination, that allows them to break away from constraints imposed by ideology or fields of discipline, and pushes them to take risks that others wouldn’t.
- A zeal to measure and monitor their impact. Entrepreneurs have high standards, particularly in relation to their own organization’s efforts and in response to the communities with which they engage. Data, both quantitative and qualitative, are their key tools, guiding continuous feedback and improvement.
- A healthy impatience. Social entrepreneurs don’t do well in bureaucracies. They cannot sit back and wait for change to happen – they are the change drivers.