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Sunday 30 March 2008

On 16:38 by RT in    No comments
One of the main questions floating around the summit was one I discussed a short while back, i.e. 'What is a social entrepreneur?' In part this was because one of the three pitches didn't really seem to fit the unspoken definition. You might say the definition doesn't matter, but it does because social enterprises, and startups in particular, need both new policy and funding models to prevent their social goals being overridden by business imperatives.

Pushing profits from an enterprise into non-profit areas, or simply doing charitable work alongside running an enterprise didn't really seem to go down well as social entrepreneurship; which I personally think is a fair point. Philanthropy already exists as a way of life and having a social conscience or running ethical businesses is great, but still not the same thing.

What makes 'Social Enterprise' different to what's gone before is the new trend towards the use of corporate principles to drive enterprise robustness in what was traditionally a non-profit and charity dependent space. Like many others I feel this is a positive move as long as it doesn't compromise the primary goal of making the world a better place.

The hierarchy of importance here is clearly on the social rather than financial connotations of the term that comes from entrepreneurs being traditionally associated with the singular business of making money. The term 'enterprising' in its essence however is about finding workable solutions in challenging situations, and maybe this is the definition of the entrepreneur we ought to be focusing on.

My Definitions of Social Enterprise:

Social entrepreneurs are people who create and implement innovative and independently sustainable solutions for addressing social issues.

Social enterprises then can be defined as "Enterprises effecting positive social change, independently and sustainably."


Do you believe you are a social entrepreneur and does this definition makes sense to you? Comment and let us know!

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