What is a Social Entrepreneur?

A social entrepreneur is any individual who inacts large scale social change by applying the ideas of business entrepreneurship to solving societies problems.
What generally sets an entrepreneur apart from her big business counterpart are her ability to take risks and her problem solving skills. It turns out that these two skills applied to social causes can be leveraged to solve large scale social problems.

Individuals have engaged in social entrepreneurship for a long time. include Florence Nightingale, who founded the first nursing school, Vinoba Bhave, who founded India’s Land Gift Movement and John Muir the founder of the Sierra Club. In each case, these individuals seized the opportunity to enact large scale changes in society.

In the 70s and 80s the term social entrepreneur was coined to describe individuals engaging in the widespread transformation of society. Professional organizations such as the National Center for Social Entrepreneurship were established to help foster new entrepreneurs.

In 1998 Dr. Gregory Deeds of Stanford University created a more formalized definition of a social entrepreneur when he stated the following:

  1. Adopting a mission to create and sustain social value (not just private value),
  2. Recognizing and relentlessly pursuing new opportunities to serve that mission,
  3. Engaging in a process of continuous innovation, adaptation, and learning,
  4. Acting boldly without being limited by resources currently in hand, and
  5. Exhibiting a heightened sense of accountability to the constituencies served and for the outcomes created.

Today, you can see examples of social entrepreneurship in many forms.

  • Microlending sites that let individuals donate small amounts of money to other individuals starting businesses in impoverished countries
  • Socially responsible shopping – websites such as Roozt.com and Green Any Site which donate proceeds from sales on their site to causes.
  • Education  -  Barefoot College, which promotes rural development through innovative education programs.

This website was created as a way for me to organize and share the information I discover in my quest to identify business opportunities that benefit other people.

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