Recently, we discussed social entrepreneurship – entrepreneurs who are all about creating new combinations of people and resources that significantly improve society’s capacity to address problems.
Sometimes it’s easy to spot a social entrepreneur as compared to a more traditional small business entrepreneur. However, both do share some similarities. Here are the ways social entrepreneurs are the same as traditional entrepreneurs.
Social entrepreneurs tackle major social issues, from increasing the college enrollment rate of low-income students to fighting poverty in developing countries. These entrepreneurial leaders operate in all kinds of organizations: innovative non-profits, social purpose ventures like for-profit community development banks, and hybrid organizations that mix elements of non-profit and for-profit organizations.
Generating social value, not wealth, is the central criterion of a successful social entrepreneur. While wealth creation may be part of the process, it’s not an end in itself. Promoting systemic social change is the real objective.
Like business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs see and act upon what others miss: opportunities to improve systems, create solutions and invent new approaches that create social value. And like the best business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs are intensely focused and hard-driving-even relentless-in their pursuit of a social vision.
Because social entrepreneurs operate within a social context rather than the business world, they have limited access to capital and traditional market support systems. As a result, social entrepreneurs must be exceptionally skilled at mustering and mobilizing human, financial and political resources.
Ultimately, social entrepreneurs are driven to produce measurable returns. These results transform existing realities, open up new pathways for the marginalized and disadvantaged, and unlock society’s potential to effect social change.