Social Entrepreneurs stand for innovation, creativity, drive, vision... and more!
Social entrepreneurs adopt a mission to create and sustain social value. They draw upon appropriate thinking in both the business and nonprofit worlds and operate in all kinds of organizations: large and small; new and old; religious and secular; nonprofit, for-profit and hybrid.
Just as business entrepreneurs create and transform whole industries, social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss in order to improve systems, invent and disseminate new approaches and advance sustainable solutions that create social value. Unlike traditional business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs primarily seek to generate "social value" rather than profits.
Business entrepreneurs typically measure performance in profit and return, but social entrepreneurs also take into account a positive return to society.
The term Social Entrepreneur came into widespread use in the 1980s, promoted by Bill Drayton the founder of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Although the term is relatively new, social entrepreneurs can be found throughout history. During the twentieth centuries some of the most successful social entrepreneurs effectively straddled the civic, governmental, and business worlds - promoting ideas that were taken up by mainstream public services in welfare, schools, and health care.
One well-known contemporary social entrepreneur, Muhammad Yunus, founder and manager of Grameen Bank and its growing family of social venture businesses, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. The work of Yunus and Grameen echoes a theme among modern day social entrepreneurs that emphasizes the enormous synergies and benefits when business principles are unified with social ventures.
Today, nonprofits and non-governmental organizations, foundations, governments, and individuals also play the role to promote, fund, and advise social entrepreneurs around the planet.
There are continuing arguments over precisely who counts as a social entrepreneur. The lack of consensus on the definition of social entrepreneurship means that other disciplines are often confused with and mistakenly associated with social entrepreneurship. It is important to set the function of social entrepreneurship apart from other socially oriented activities and identify the boundaries within which social entrepreneurs operate. Some have advocated restricting the term to founders of organizations that primarily rely on earned income - meaning income earned directly from paying consumers. Others have extended this to include contracted work for public authorities, while still others include grants and donations.
Organizations such as Ashoka: Innovators for the Public and the Skoll Foundation, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, focus on highlighting these hidden change-makers who are scattered throughout the world. Ashoka’s Changemakers "open sourcing social solutions" initiative Changemakers uses an online platform for what it calls collaborative competitions to build communities of practice around pressing issues.
Many organizations are focussing on Social Entrepreneurship in Belgium, such as Oksigen, Ashoka, SI² Fund, Trividend, De Punt... Due to this evolution social entrepreneurship is developping strongly. Since 2010 some social entrepreneurs decided to create a community, Positive Entrepreneurs Network.
Youth social entrepreneurship is an increasingly common approach to engaging youth voice in solving social problems. Youth organizations and programs promote these efforts through a variety of incentives to young people. One such program is ChangemakerXchange.