Social Entrepreneurs

Social Entrepreneur

It’s a huge misconception that most of the entrepreneurs work for the sole aim of profit making. The world is now changing, and the entrepreneurs are becoming more socially conscious and hence, another new breed of entrepreneurs has taken birth, i.e. the social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs are those who aim to bring about a change, a revolution in the existing social system without foregoing the motive of profit making associated with any business. Social entrepreneurs pursue their entrepreneurial goals by building strong and sustainable business organizations which overcome the traditional practices of the society and work for the overall development of human beings. They attempt to find simple solutions to challenging social problems and try to construct business models which generate positive returns to the society and the nation as a whole.

Social entrepreneurs drive social growth and transformation and can be associated with diverse fields, such as health, education, environment, poverty alleviation, etc. They are beneficial because they do not work like traditional corporate businesses, but prioritize fulfilment of social goals over profit-making goals. They not only try to recognize the existing social issue, but they also aim to obtain a better understanding of the issues on a broader level. Obtaining a better understanding of the issue helps them develop innovative solutions to overcome the problem and hence, they can contribute towards society’s progress.

Some of the characteristics of a social entrepreneur are as follows:

ü  They are pragmatic leaders and visionaries who strive to contribute towards the progress of the society and help in building the nation
ü  Their focus lies in optimizing their financial resources to create sustainable social value
ü  They try to find innovative solutions like creating a new product, a new service or a better approach which helps solves existing social problems
ü  They take constructive feedback from the society and all those involved in the project and try to improve on their existing business model
ü  They try to reach as many people as possible through volunteers and through participation in their venture
ü  They have unwavering faith in capabilities of the people to contribute towards economic and social development
ü  They are passionate towards the cause they support
ü  They are ambitious and mission driven
ü  They have a practical approach and they use tools like market research, understanding consumer behavior, etc. to enhance the value added by their business
ü  They are risk-takers and they allow their passion to drive their work, hence, attracting a greater number of people towards their cause
ü  They are more result oriented and wish to see to produce more measurable results to measure the right impact
ü  They are socially resourceful in terms of networking, as that is a key skill which helps them attract more people towards their business
ü  They are the change drivers and feel elated to know that they are the change drivers in someone’s life


Unique Characteristics of the profit-oriented entrepreneur
Unique characteristics of social entrepreneur
Characteristics common to both entrepreneurs
Mission leader
Risk taker
Emotionally charge
Strategic thinker
Change agent
Initiative taker
Holistic view of issues
Opinion leader
Value creator
Social value creator
High achiever
Socially alert


Highly accountable

TABLE: Characteristics comparison of profit making entrepreneur and social entrepreneur


Types of Social Organizational Models

i)                    One of the basic models is leveraged non-profit venture, where the entrepreneur sets up the organization to address the need for innovation to address either a government or a market failure. The social entrepreneur tries to engage different sections of the society to drive the innovation in the system through a multiplier effect. These kinds of organizations are dependent on funding from outside sources, but they enhance their probability of long-term sustainability through engagement with partners whose vested interest matches the aim of the organization.
ii)                  The second model is the social business venture where the social entrepreneur aims to create profits without compromising on the social goals. In this model, the organization creates a social product or service or an ecological and environment friendly product and sells it for purpose of creating profit simultaneously ensuring that there is no negative impact on the society. Their main aim is to reach out to as many people as possible and simultaneously ensure financial gains for sustainable development of the venture. Most of the generated profits are reinvested in the business to expand and reach out a greater audience. They also try and connect with investors who share the same purpose as them.
iii)                Third type of venture is hybrid non-profit venture where the organization created is a not for profit organization which aims to cover its costs through sale of goods and services. This kind of entrepreneurs setup separate legal entities to account for their earnings. In addition to trying to mobilize other sources also to help them develop their business, they also seek funds in terms of loans or grants to be able to sustain their activities and address the needs of their clients. Most of their clients are people belonging to poor or marginalized societies.


How can the country benefit from this new breed of entrepreneurs? Is it worth pursuing?

Social entrepreneurship is all about utilizing the existing knowledge and finding out practical and innovative solutions to create a sustainable, value-delivering business model which benefits the society and helps in the progress of the nation. It is a unique approach to solve social problems, without compromising on business motive of generating profits. Social entrepreneurship cuts across diverse sectors may it be at organization-level or at individual level. We need more social entrepreneurs in the country who can dedicate their lives for improvement of social conditions and be the change drivers of the society.

Some examples of Social Entrepreneurs:

1)      Arvind Eye care hospital which provides quality and affordable eye care to millions of people across the country
2)      SKS Microfinance which provides micro credit to poor farmers for the purpose of food security

Hence, we see how these new breed of entrepreneurs will drive the growth in future years, and how each breed is an important contributor in their each true sense.

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