written by Mahan Mohammadi, PhD Candidate & International Ambassadors
When we talk about social entrepreneurship, we consider all the approaches that are used by companies, individuals, and start-ups, in which they aim to find and solve some solutions to social, cultural, or environmental current or future issues. These activities can be implemented in both non-profit and for-profit structures, but what matters most is their goals, which will provide favorable outcomes for society.
There can be an overlap between the definition of social entrepreneur and some voluntary sector and charity activities since both groups of activities can be based on profit generation for the society, but what makes them different? The easiest way to clarify this definition is the way they rely on money. Most charity and voluntary activities are built upon income from grants or donations, while social enterprises are those entities that rely on commercial strategies to improve the well-being of society and the environment as a long-term solution. Also, the scope of work for a social entrepreneur is wider and bigger than a charity entity. Now that we have a better understanding of what social entrepreneurship is, it may be time to consider how we can use it to make the world a better place.
Our world is facing many social challenges, such as unemployment, poverty, at-risk populations, climate change, etc. Here is the place for innovative players who want to earn money by setting up their businesses to tackle these societal challenges. Fortunately, social entrepreneurship is rapidly growing in size and scope. The business part will act as an incentive for them to try harder and the social benefit part will be a good outcome of their activities. Another critical feature of successful social entrepreneurship is having a scale for the possible solutions. Also, the quality of an entrepreneur entity is built from its creativity that will lead to a clear idea of what they believe is feasible to be implemented.
Of course, in these sorts of activities, there is an extensive need for a government-led long-term plan to manage all these entrepreneur efforts within a well-defined road map to maximize the gained social benefits. The governments should have a clear picture of what they want for the future, and then the entrepreneurs can start playing on the ground following the legislation. In addition to the audit role of the government, there should be a support mechanism to help the entrepreneur entities move toward goals that guarantee sustainable development.
Like many other purposeful activities, there are some challenges that a social entrepreneur may face. The first is the lack of eager investors, which will cause a pay gap among employees of these entities compared to commercial enterprises. This is caused by the uncertainty about future solutions that the entrepreneur is offering. Second is the complicated process of planning and managing the available resources, which requires very high skills and motivated managers. The third and, in my opinion, most important challenge that an entrepreneur faces is the duality of missions.