When business ventures/entrepreneurs aim at targeting and solving social issues, it is called social entrepreneurship. While most entrepreneurs are profit-driven, social entrepreneurs’ ventures are mainly not for profit. They often target areas like poverty, healthcare, environmental issues and community development. This kind of entrepreneurship makes the most of out of social media to reach out to people for funds i.e. crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is when a business venture is funded by many people and is usually facilitated over the internet. People are more likely to contribute to a venture when they know it is for a good cause.
Capitalism plus social cause is what makes social entrepreneurship click. There is something called hybrid social entrepreneurship, which focuses on monetary gains while solving a pressing issue. Networking and collaboration are important aspects of social entrepreneurship. The larger, more focused network you have, the better your venture will turn out to be.
Now that we’ve understood the basics of social entrepreneurship, let’s have a look at what are some of its benefits to the individual, society and the country as a whole.
- Creates employment – As with other forms of entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship too creates employment opportunities for likeminded people. In this case, the employees will be morally driven since they are working towards a social cause. It will create more service-minded individuals working for the betterment of society. Many people are opting for this as a career since it is financially rewarding as well.
- Fosters diversity – Social entrepreneurship encourages a strong sense of community since it targets problems faced by society as a whole. Collaboration and networking are the two most critical factors that decide the success of such ventures. This is irrespective of differences in backgrounds. People from different sections of the society will come together for a common cause, thus fostering diversity and harmony in diversity. Inclusive entrepreneurship is necessary for the development of all sections of society.
- Encourages creativity and innovation – Social entrepreneurship is all about innovation and advancement in existing models. These entrepreneurs look for any excuse to better existing technology and make it cheaper and more accessible. Being tech savvy is very important to the health of a social venture. Engaging the community in creative ways and finding better solutions using the latest technology is what keeps them motivated and excited.
- Promotes large-scale social change – This is a given with social entrepreneurship. Social change is what drives them and forms part of their core business goal. They engage community members in working towards a social cause. Via crowdfunding and networking, more people become aware of the cause they are working towards and get inspired by the same.
These pointers give us a good idea about how important social entrepreneurship can be for society. Ups and downs are part of any venture, aren’t they? Let us now take a glance at some obstacles one might face while setting up such a venture.
- Lack of funding – Social entrepreneurship is still blossoming and not many people are aware of how it works. Lack of trust and failure to produce immediate results will hinder funding. It can get hard to convince people to invest in something that may or may not produce monetary benefits.
- Problems in recruitment – As with any business, social entrepreneurship faces the problem of hiring employees with the right skill set. People with more experience and skill might demand a higher pay, which can get difficult to materialize due to insufficient funding.
- Lack of recognition – Unlike commercial ventures, social ventures do not get much recognition and branding in the market. Sometimes they do not have sufficient capital to invest in marketing and branding. It is mainly only through networking that word gets spread.
Despite these roadblocks, there have been many social entrepreneurs who have successful ventures. Here are some of the inspiring ones from our very own country.
- Grameen Bank – A microfinance company that was founded in Bangladesh by Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank is a stellar example of social entrepreneurship. It is a bank for the poor that gives small amounts of loan sans any collateral. The founder is a Nobel Laureate.
- Aravind Eye Hospitals – Aravind Eye Hospital was founded by Dr. G Venkataswamy in the mid ’70s. The purpose of this venture is to provide affordable and high-end eye care to everybody, in order to prevent blindness. The late Dr. Venkataswamy received the Padmashree for his selfless service to the society.
“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.” – Bill Drayton
– Chaithra Sharma