Exploring Social Entrepreneurship
Published on: 19.05.2020
Social entrepreneurs put the social mission before profit while keeping a balance between business and the social/environmental cause. Being an entrepreneur can be hard all the time, no matter the business stage of the organization. Being a social entrepreneur can be highly-rewarding and even a more difficult path than traditional entrepreneurship.
The social entrepreneur that has a great purpose-driven business idea needs a few other traits to succeed.
Motivation to remain enthusiastic on an ongoing basis.
On the path towards the goal, the moments of doubt can outnumber the moments of success. In moments of doubt, people start to question their decisions and actions and are undecided on the next step. It’s OK to feel doubt, but remember that famous quote: ‘Doubt kills more dreams than failure.”
A social entrepreneur can overcome such a tricky moment by focusing on the challenge. The problem or issue that inspired that great idea, can charge up the motivation to keep going.
Discipline and self-organization
Many people say they want to be their own boss because they plan to invest their time in more important personal projects. A piece of good advice would be to not leave your job because you have a great business idea. Second, if you don’t like working eight hours a day, five days a week for someone else, as an entrepreneur you’ll need to work seven days a week. At those moments keeping a life-work balance would be a real struggle.
Besides this, you will have to take a lot of responsibility. Some of those responsibilities include time-consuming and even boring tasks. You might even need to learn skills such as accounting and finances. As a founder, it’s crucial to understand everything related to money in your organization.
All these will need a lot of discipline and self-organization. These two skills don’t come naturally to everyone, but like all good habits, they can be cultivated. Sometimes you’ll find yourself doing stuff even if you don’t feel like it. When you learn to stick to a plan or routine things will seem easier especially if your workday consists of different tasks and business processes. Plan ahead your next day, next step, or next goal and remember the quote: Failure to plan is a plan for failure
Types of social enterprises
In order to make a purpose-driven idea succeed one needs to find the best type of social enterprise that will work. The type of organization will highly depend on the local context and on the challenges arising in that situation. For example, emerging countries and markets are hubs for social innovation. Filling the needs of these hubs for skilled people would require innovation in different fields especially on education, (SDG4). The combination of innovative classrooms, both virtual and physical, with the experience outside of the classroom would give access to alternative forms of inclusive education to people as well as the skills for the labor market. Those are skills like innovative, creative, and critical thinking, effective communications, time management, or failing, that traditional curricula fail to teach.
Where to focus?
Start on safe ground. This depends on what you can do best. If your background is on agriculture, don’t try to set up a robotics startup. You can do it and it could be a great success, but it’s also important to keep your project real. Sometimes is more important to improve or add value to an existing product or service than entering uncharted territory. When you know how to do something the right way, you can achieve both your social goal and have satisfied consumers or clients. How to innovate something that already exists? Take our free courses on entrepreneurship and you’ll learn how.
There are different types of social enterprises with the most common being the following:
Community enterprises or community social entrepreneurs
As the name implies these are an organization that involves a considerable number of people based in a defined area that can be a neighborhood, village, town, etc. They operate on the benefit of the community and this increases their chances of becoming more sustainable with the passing of time. As more people participate, decision making is not the duty of one single person. This is a good thing, but on the other hand, it takes more time to get a lot of people to agree with something. Examples of community enterprises include nurseries, social clubs, and community centers, libraries, etc.
These types of enterprises bring together people from different sectors that unite to meet or cope with specific social or economic needs. They are member-owned organizations. Legal specifications and requirements may vary from one country to another. Cooperatives are based on solidarity, equality, self-responsibility, social responsibility, and many more. Cooperatives can be for-profit-base or nonprofit organizations.
According to the UN, cooperatives are based on seven principles:
Voluntary and open membership
Democratic member control
Member economic participation
Autonomy and independence
Education, training, and information
Cooperation among cooperatives
Concern for the community
Credit unions may fit as a sub-category of cooperatives. They are member-owned and community-based facilities that provide banking services such as loan facilities of savings to their members. Credit-union size ranges from small to large entities.
Founders of non-profit organizations focus more on the social wealth of their community. Non-profits differ depending on local laws. They funnel donations into their mission and reinvest any extra money.
These types of organizations help to provide jobs for people that find it difficult to get employment. They focus on people with disabilities, women, and youth from vulnerable communities, etc.
Other types of social enterprises include Development Trusts, Charitable Incorporated Organisation, social purpose businesses, etc.
Think about it, the post-COVID-19 can be the best time to push for new innovative business ideas. If you already have an idea, you can join the Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition and learn how to improve it. This can be your chance to get into the social entrepreneurship path.