Social Entrepreneurship

Social Entrepreneurship is quickly gaining a renowned currency around the world. To which Social Entrepreneurship is my field of expertise, saw the need to address the importance of social entrepreneurship by first focusing on what it is, the reason why it exists, information pertaining to entrepreneurship essentials and most importantly why one should consider social entrepreneurship as a venture of expertise.

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

First and foremost is the definition of social entrepreneurship. Social Entrepreneurship  is an entrepreneurial venture that aims to achieve a desired social change. It typically furthers broad social, cultural and environmental goals and is commonly associated with the voluntary and non-profit sectors though profit can at times also be a consideration.


Who is a Social Entrepreneur?

Therefore a social entrepreneur is an individual that identifies and solves a social problem on a large scale. These individuals seize opportunities others miss with the objective of improving current systems, inventing and disseminating new approaches to advance sustainable solutions that create social value, they act as change agents for their societies.

Social Entrepreneurs primarily seek to generate social value rather than profits, where the work done is targeted not only towards immediate, small-scale effects, but sweeping long term change.
Simply put, social entrepreneurs are society’s change agents, creators of innovations that disrupt the status quo and transform our world.
Social entrepreneurs are ambitious, mission driven, strategic, resourceful and results orientated individuals.

What does a Social Entrepreneur do?

A social entrepreneurs job is to identify a problem, think of suitable innovative ideas to solve the problem and of all ideas sought, one solution has to be chosen that will best FIX the problem. There after implementation follows and the solution is put to action to create an impact, where the measurement of the impact can be examined by an evaluation on the difference made after the initial problem, which is by opening new pathways for the disadvantaged by unlocking the societies full potential to reach social change where in the long run results in a better life and ultimately towards social cohesion.

After getting understanding on what a social entrepreneur does, and what the primary job of a social entrepreneur is, It is very important to distinguish between a Social Entrepreneur, Volunteer and a Philanthropist. Which are 3 (three) most common terms used in the field of social development.

A brief comparison and description of each is explained below:

The difference between a Social Entrepreneur, Volunteer and Philanthropist.

One of the main reason why touching on this particular  aspect is due to the questions and uncertainty of what a social entrepreneur really is and whether or not it can be classified as simply "active volunteerism"
The research for the definition was sparked by a young volunteer who was exceptionally passionate about social responsibility and wanted to know where she should classify herself as a volunteer or social entrepreneur as her question read:  "Are Volunteers also Social Entrepreneurs?"

The answer is NO. A social entrepreneur and a volunteer are 2 different aspects. Compared to a social entrepreneur, whom is n individual  who identifies a problem and through the process of innovation, seeks solutions to ensure that the problem is fixed and impact is reached (or improves an existing system to create social change by ensuring that more people benefit from its existence). Whereas  a volunteer is an individual that provides labour for free, (for no financial gain).

Further explained; Social entrepreneurs start or improve something that is already in place, but volunteers do not. In most cases volunteers are recruited to fulfil a very specific task that is part of an existing program.
Innovation is the primary requirement and is always part of social entrepreneurship, but innovation is not required to be a volunteer, hence volunteers provide pre-determined tasks where there is barely no expectation for innovation.

The biggest difference between the two however, is that Volunteers are never paid (unless there is an agreement with the particular organisation that the volunteer will be affiliated with or volunteers are required to pay a certain fee if they wish to travel outside their geographic locations for volunteering purposes, where the costs go towards the organisation, to cover related costs for the volunteers travels or as means of fundraising for their initiatives), but  social entrepreneurs are usually paid and this is the exciting dimension of social entrepreneurship.

A theme that connects social entrepreneurship and volunteerism is the desire to help people in need. However, there are some interesting differences as mentioned above.


What is a  Philanthropist?

By Definition: A philanthropist is a  person who seeks to promote the welfare of others, esp. by the generous donation of money to good causes.

Therefore it is understood that a philanthropist is an individual who engages in activities to benefit people and society. Though philanthropy is often associated with people who are wealthy (because they have more resources to donate to philanthropy) people in a wide range of social and economic classes engage in   philanthropy. Philanthropists are often rewarded for their actions with tax breaks, and increase in social status. and other benefits, but also claim altruism as a motivation, though others prefer to remain anonymous so that the focus is on the benefit being provided rather that the person contributing them

What is the Relationship between a Social Entrepreneur, Volunteer and a Philanthropist?

A Social Entrepreneur invents a new system or improves an existing one. Thereafter (in most common cases) the innovation will be costly and the social entrepreneur therefore requires assistance in terms of costs, skills (if it is building or restructuring something physical or where intangible skills are needed to get the job/system working) the Social Entrepreneur would consult a volunteer who is willing to work for free, expecting no financial gain in return.
 In a case where new equipment needs to be bought in order for the system to start working so the beneficiaries can use it successfully, the social entrepreneur therefore makes use of philanthropists who donate money , time and material goods to support the cause.


Why should you consider Social Entrepreneurship as an area of expertise?

Watch the video below and let it be your motivation!


The Skoll Foundation has recently completed a short film about the field of social entrepreneurship. Its a great overview of the progress made over the last three decades. It starts with Mohammad Yunus and includes interviews with a number of social entrepreneurs and others in the field, including Sally Osberg of the Skoll Foundation, Bill Drayton of Ashoka, Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acumen Fund, John Elkington of Volans, and author David Bornstein.