Friday, June 27, 2008

Social Entrepreneurship Defined

Social entrepreneurship is somewhat new. It is difficult to understand for people new to this area because it is not philanthropy and not quite business though it is known to masquerade as both. Hope the following characterization helps:

1. The motivation is social good and the means is business creation. Typically social good is in the purview of governments, foundations and NGOs. The area lacks financial instruments required by business. Legal structures exist but are not optimal.

2. In a typical social venture, financial return follows social return. Additionally, local social mores play a role in market creation and expansion – making the task operationally more difficult and slower in yielding results.

3. There are successful social entrepreneurs around but none are achieving scale at any significant rate. Possible solution is public-private partnerships but there are few success stories in this area and many failures. Another solution is venture capital but there is low (and slow) financial return to investor. On the plus side I think the risk is lower too.

Example success stories – (mentioned in this blog over time)
Micro finance: SKS, Kiva, Grameen-phone;
Health care – Aravind eye hospitals, Jaipur foot;
Energy – Selco, D.light;
Education- Barefoot College

For organisations interested in participating in this space - Examples of useful services (become a focal “go-to” place for social entrepreneurs and socially motivated investors) are from small to big-

Scholarships to attend conferences/ events
Special track at conference/events
Infrastructure services – create incubator - office space, legal, business plan review
Provide networking opportunities
education opportunities – for investor as well as entrepreneur
sponsored competitions – e.g. best business plan
Mentor services
Technology-social entrepreneur match ups
Social venture fund creation

1 comment:

thousand oaks office space said...

Throughout history, such individuals have introduced solutions to seemingly intractable social problems, fundamentally improving the lives of countless individuals by changing the way critical systems operate. Florence Nightingale and Maria Montessori offer two prominent historical examples. Muhammad Yunus, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, is a more recent example. He began offering microloans to impoverished people in Bangladesh in 1976, thereby empowering them to become economically self-sufficient and proving the microcredit model that has now been replicated around the world.

While social entrepreneurship isn’t a new concept, it has gained renewed currency in a world characterized by a growing divide between the haves and the have-nots. With this heightened visibility, social entrepreneurs at the forefront of the movement are distinguishing themselves from other social venture players in terms of ultimate impact.