The idea of social entrepreneurship has been around for decades. However, it has emerged as a powerful tool for change in the past decade. Many social entrepreneurs give their time to make the world better for future generations, but how can they contribute to society? This article will explore some ways of social entrepreneurship that can promote positive change for society and highlight some leading examples of successful enterprises.
What is Social Entrepreneurship?
Social entrepreneurship is the application of business tools and entrepreneurial skills to achieve social change. Where traditional entrepreneurs want to sell a product, create employment or make profits, social entrepreneurs also pursue some form of social benefit in addition to financial return. However, social entrepreneurship can also be not for profit.
Further, it is an innovative way to balance work and life and has been identified as a driver for sustainable development. Social entrepreneurs are individuals or teams that have come together with the common goal of not only generating profit but also creating positive impacts for people within their community. Moreover, it focuses on the double bottom line for both businesses' profits and improvements in society, communities, markets, health care, education systems, civic life, etc. Ultimately, social entrepreneurs innovate across different types of organizations through systems that change the lens in order to improve the way society functions.
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Although Bill Drayton is considered one of the pioneers of social entrepreneurship, it was originally advocated by Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.
How can social entrepreneurship create impacts on society?
Social entrepreneurship is running a business with the main aim to solve certain social problems. Hence, it can positively impact society in various ways, such as an increase in employment rate, better distribution of wealth and income, reducing poverty, hunger, disease, etc.
Millions of people can get employed through social business, and this includes health care services, educational institutions, arts & crafts marketplaces, and so on. The increase in employment increases economic growth, which ultimately improves the standard of living to a greater extent.
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Further, social entrepreneurship makes sure that it helps people from all economic classes like poor, middle class, and rich. This nature of social entrepreneurship ensures not only equality but also spreads benefits among the different groups in the society. The businesses run by social entrepreneurs do not make large profits as they are there to fulfill certain necessities and offer services at very low costs, if not for free.
Eventually, social entrepreneurship encourages innovation which results in minimizing poverty as well as diseases such as those caused by unclean drinking water, lack of sanitation facilities, and other factors. Social entrepreneurs try to attain this aim through research and development in order to provide quality food, clothes, and shelter for all.
Despite having all those benefits, social business has some drawbacks too. It doesn't fix the structural issues of society. Moreover, this kind of business aims to reform society instead of transforming it. Most of the time, media, investors, and influencers appreciate for-profit social entrepreneurship.
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Some bright examples of social entrepreneurship ventures
With an ever-growing concern for social and environmental responsibility, it's no wonder that we are seeing such a rise in the number of entrepreneurs who are setting up companies to make a difference. Rather than solely focusing on making money, these social entrepreneurs are adamant about spreading awareness and doing their part to be good stewards of the environment.
Following are some of the bright examples of social businesses that aim to change society.
TOMS Shoes was founded by Blake Mycoskie, who witnessed first-hand the struggles of children without shoes while he was on a trip to Argentina. He started his company with the intention that for every pair sold, they would donate one shoe, and fund other initiatives such as eyewear or water programs in developing countries where poverty is rampant but resources are few.
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To date, the company donated more than 60 million pairs of shoes helped to restore eyesight to more than 400,000 people. Furthermore, they also provided more than 355,000 weeks of safe water.
Another organization that has become a synonym of social business is Grameen Bank, founded by Muhammad Yunus. The Grameen Bank has been working as a poverty-fighting bank. Dr. Yunus founded it in 1983 with a simple mission: to provide small loans for those living below the poverty line so that they could become self-sufficient members of society.
It has a mission statement of providing financial services for those who need it most at little cost or risk involved. This institution has come into being as one with no requirements other than honesty from borrowers. It simply makes small loans without ever having asked for security beforehand! However, the plan may seem unrealistic, but Grameen Bank has been successful. 90% of the borrowers are female who are working to become self-sufficient.
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Scott Harrison is the founder of the nonprofit organization Charity: Water, which he founded after returning from Liberia with an experience that had humbled him. He wanted to dedicate his life not only towards working in humanitarian aid but also to bringing clean water access for everyone worldwide!
The organization, charity: water, has funded around 25,000 projects and is currently operating in 24 countries. Together, the projects provide fresh water to more than 7 million people while also using all profits for future or current project development.
Seventh Generation Inc.
Jeffrey Hollender, the founder of Seventh Generation, is an example of how a socially responsible company can grow.
The company produces eco-friendly household cleaning products that are free of harsh chemicals. He started this company with one goal: to provide people with environmentally friendly household cleaners without harming their health or Earth's natural resources. Not only did they develop new formulas made entirely out of eco-friendly sources, but they also decided to donate 10% profits from sales back into society!
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Social entrepreneurship has helped an incredible number of people in different parts of the world. If more such social entrepreneurs take initiatives, it will certainly lead humanity towards a better place.