What is a social entrepreneur?

there's a lot of talk about social entrepreneurship these days but what is a social entrepreneur social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative ideas to solve the world's most pressing social problems they do that by creating new product systems and solutions to help change people's lives they have an ability to see and seize opportunities and then they take those opportunities and they have the passion and drive to go after those solutions which also means that they have the ability to take on the risk that that entails their change agents and disruptors the concept has been around for a long time think Florence Nightingale in the way she revolutionized Nursing Muhammad Yunus and his creation of the microfinance industry and more recently you can look at organizations like one acre fund which are working to transform the way small holder farmers can grow and produce their own agricultural products and reduce hunger there's often a lot of confusion around the profit motives of social entrepreneurs social enterprises can be not-for-profit or for-profit sometimes it's going to be a market-based solution that maybe the company is breaking even in other cases a transformational product or system might also bring significant financial gains when brought to scale the International Development Community is increasingly realizing the role that these social entrepreneurs can play in tackling global social challenges and the community is learning from them they're learning about risk-taking because if you're going to invest in social entrepreneurs you have to be willing to take the risk that comes with their learning about adaptation and iteration because social entrepreneurs often have to change their approach or their model or their product and tinker with it until they get it just right traditional development programs often haven't done that well social enterprises often have a much higher accountability to their constituencies they have to be close to their consumers in order to develop the right product that will take off certainly those working in the development space often talk of a few main challenges one of those is bringing their products or their systems to scale how do you make sure that it's reaching people beyond a certain geographic location and that the goal from the beginning is not only to just reach one community here or there but to go global some development actors are starting to think about this USAID for example is investing in Nouriel ecosystems trying to build up the sort of environment that's going to allow entrepreneurs to grow and flourish another critical challenge is access to capital and that's not just at the seed funding stage but it's at that critical middle stage where companies are looking to scale but might not yet be able to access private capital but again development actors are trying to step in and fill some of those gaps last year we saw the creation of the global Innovation Fund by a group of donors and other actors the goal of the fund is to pilot test and scale innovative ideas social entrepreneurship is increasingly also seen as a job creation tool in many developing countries that might not have a lot of big or even medium-sized corporations to provide employment opportunities increasingly there's an investment in training entrepreneurs to create their own jobs there are certainly some skeptics after all not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur not everyone has that drive or that appetite for risk but what does seem clear is that entrepreneurship both as a vehicle of job creation and as a way to help seed and develop and grow innovation will be an enduring part of the development enterprise you

  1. As I would always say to myself…it's not just about profit and returns. It's all about helping others make ends meet. <3

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