Entrepreneurs change the face of business by driving growth and harnessing opportunity. They create value by using innovative and systemic approaches for meeting the needs of the market. Social entrepreneurs see value in the form of transformational change that will benefit the society at large.
A conscious citizens, the social entrepreneur does not wait for the government or the business sector to solve the problems of the society. He stands out for his belief, courage, empathy, initiative, innovation and drive. When he sees something that disturbs him, he identifies the problem, solves it, and spreads the solution, becoming instrumental in changing the established, but fundamentally inequitable systems forever.
Social entrepreneurship is not a new concept. Though the term had not been coined then, the 19th and the 20th century have seen many change agents. They introduced solutions to seemingly intractable social problems, fundamentally improving the lives of countless individuals by changing the way critical systems operated.
- United States based Susan B. Anthony fought for equal rights for women in the country. She was the force behind the inclusion of women’s right to control property.
- India based social activists Vinoba Bhave tirelessly worked to correct the inequitable distribution of land in the country. He was the founder and leader of the Land Gift Movement which resulted in the redistribution of more than 7,000,000 acres of land in the favour of the country’s untouchables and landless.
- Italy based Dr. Maria Montessori pioneered the novel method of primary education by introducing the Montessori approach to early childhood education.
- The United Kingdom based Florence Nightingale is credited with laying the foundation of modern nursing and improving the condition in hospitals.
Critical Success Factors for Social Enterprise
The ideas behind successful social enterprise are user-friendly, understandable and ethical. Scale is the key to the success of the social enterprise. Scale maximizes impact and ensuring long term irreversible change in the system. The local support to and the adoption of his idea is also critical to the success of the enterprise. Social enterprises use innovative approaches and in some instances proprietary technology to meet societal needs in an innovative and affordable manner.
Present Day Examples
The concept of social enterprise gained currency in the second half of 20th century as the chasm between the haves and the have-nots widened.
- Bunker Roy created the Barefoot College in rural communities in India to train illiterate and semiliterate men and women who had no access to formal education. Graduates of Barefoot College include teachers, engineers, health workers and architects. Barefoot engineers installed and maintain solar-electrification systems in 547 villages to light up the lives of nearly 100,000 people.
- In 1993, Ann Cotton started the Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) and introduced a sustainable model for educating and training girls from poor families. The CAMFED-supported education and microfinance program helped 300,000 girls in 2006 alone.
- In 1976, Muhammad Yunus, introduced a sustainable model of financial inclusion in Bangladesh -- the Grameen Bank which ensured microfinance to the poor people of the area, thereby empowering them to become economically self-sufficient. The microcredit model has been successfully replicated around the world.
- US based Bill Drayton pioneered emissions trading -- a market-based approach to pollution reduction in 1980. Since then, the practice has been adopted around the world. He also set up an organization to provide professional support and financial backing to social entrepreneurs.
- India based - Jeroo Billimoria set up a 24-hour toll free telephone hotline that connects children in need of help to a network of child-service organizations, making it possible for ordinary citizens, policemen or social workers to assist children in danger at any time. The service s manned by sreet children themselves.
- Hungary based -Erzsébet Szekeres has developed a programme to empower and rehabilitate the disabled. The programme provided training, employment opportunities, and housing to disabled citizens.
- South Africa based Veronica Khosa instituted a community-based model capable to help those suffering from AIDS. She has developed and institutionalized a basic home-care model, in addition to training unemployed youths to offer effective care to the affected people in their communities and families.
- Ashoka: Innovators for the Public
- What is a Social Entrepreneur?
- SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP /SOCIAL ENTERPRISE
- The Hard Numbers on Social Investments
- The New Heroes