Joining the corporate world seems to come with a host of tradeoffs. Your social life is restricted to weekends, your personal passions diminished to side hustles and wellness becomes balanced with work instead of prioritised. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. You can find fulfilling work that you’re passionate about, find success and make a positive impact. Social entrepreneurship is one field you might explore and find great pride in doing.
Social entrepreneurs are solving some of the world’s most devastating problems. Take Muhammad Yunus, for example, who founded Grameen Bank, lifted 10million Bangladeshis out of poverty between 1990 and 2008, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 by doing so. Or, the founders of Misfit Foods who don’t believe that healthy and eco-friendly living needs to come with giving your favourites up. They’ve rescued more than 10 million pounds of produce and recycled that food into sustainably-made sausages. Between poverty and hunger, global warming, and livestock treatment, social entrepreneurs use business expertise to innovate solutions for these existential issues.
Before you jump right in and draw up a business plan, you’ll first need to get a firm understanding of what social entrepreneurship is and what it is not.
What is Social Entrepreneurship?
Social entrepreneurship in its most high-level form is the use of smart business practices to create solutions for global problems. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, two essential things are required for an activity to be classified as social entrepreneurship.
First, it must be driven by social value creation as opposed to value capture. This means a venture’s ultimate bottom-line is to contribute to the social good instead of reaping short-term financial benefits. This guideline excludes operations such as corporate responsibility programs and traditional entrepreneurship from social entrepreneurship.
Secondly, the venture must be market-based rather than non-market based. Meaning, it needs to compete in the for-profit sector instead of the public sector. This aspect excludes volunteering, nonprofit work, and government legislation from social entrepreneurship.
How To Start Making Your Impact
Now that you’ve developed a basic understanding of the field, it’s time to dive into how you can start making your impact. Social entrepreneurship involves two essential expertise: business savviness and social-inclination and activism. You’ll need to do a lot of learning in these areas, so dust off those textbooks!
Whether you attend business school or intern at a startup, you want to simulate a real-world business experience. Specifically, focus on identifying opportunities and learning about business strategy and management. Things like accounting and marketing are beneficial, but understanding more high-level business tactics like observation, timing, risk-analysis, and bootstrapping will transform your ideas into a business.
Social-conscious is vital to become a social entrepreneur
When things get rocky, and your business faces financial adversity, it’s important you still act according to your mission instead of your company’s bank balance. Gaining skills in social activism is less straight-forward than going to business school. This requires a gut-check.
Reflect on things that matter the most to you.
What issues have you been exposed to and furthermore why are you the best person to resolve this problem? Unless you have an inspired motivation to take on this social challenge, your determination will fade. So, be honest with what you’re most passionate about and how you can translate that into making a social impact.
“The challenge I set before anyone who condemns private-sector business is this: If you are a socially conscious person, why don’t you run your business in a way that will help achieve social objectives?”– Muhammad Yunus
Doing Good Pays Off
The business world has a cut-throat stereotype. If you aren’t the most money hungry, calculated person on the block, you’ll have no success. This misconception should be left in the past as social entrepreneurship proves that you can do good and go well financially.
Muhammad Yunus, along with his renowned success and saving millions from poverty, also has a net worth of $10 million dollars. Or, for example, sustainable investing— the combination of traditional investment using environmental, social, and governance insights. These funds outperformed counterparts by 70% during the turbulent first four months of 2020.
So, you don’t have to sell your soul to the corporate machine to make an impact as well as a profit. Social entrepreneurship is an emergent field that marries structured business tactics with benevolence. And with the doomsday clock a mere 100 seconds from midnight, the world needs social entrepreneurs like you!
Words by Lily | Photography by Annie Spratt