Social Entrepreneurship, Essay Example
Subject: how can social entrepreneurship contribute to society?
Terms of reference
For a very long time not enough attention has been paid to the importance of social entrepreneurship in bringing about development in our societies. Despite half hearted efforts by the protagonists of this phenomenal to bring into attention of everyone about the importance of this aspect in enhancing our social economic lives, nothing much has really been achieved. The reason for this can be attributed to the slow pace that governments and other stake holders are taking in recognizing the important role that this entities play in our society. This is the major content of this report.
The report begins with a short description of the problem at hand. It gives a brief summary of the history of social entrepreneurship, its recent developments and the possible way forward. This is then followed by an in depth analysis of all the available literature as far as this important subject is concerned. The answer to the problem question (how can social entrepreneurship contribute to society?) is well dealt with in this section. Last but not least I conclude my report with a summary and recommendations of the major findings of the report. It is my hope that this report will form a solid basis for the concerned stakeholders to act so as to full tap the potential of social entrepreneurship in our societies.
Before introducing what we mean by social entrepreneurship, let’s define who is a social entrepreneur. There are many ways in which a social entrepreneur has been defined but nevertheless a common agreement exists. Munoz (13) defines a social entrepreneur as an individual who takes his/her time, spirit, and energy to build better communities as opposed to personal businesses for personal gain. On the same note Bornstein (11) also defines a social entrepreneur as someone who look to the world, recognize a problem then uses the principles of entrepreneurship to organize, build and manage such a venture to realize positive social change. A critical look at these two definitions simply shows more or less the same thing. It is only approach that differs. Generally speaking a social entrepreneur is an individual who is set out to bring positive change in the society through the various programs he has decided to undertake. A social entrepreneur is different from a normal entrepreneur in that whereas a normal entrepreneur calculates his success in term of how much profit he has made, a social entrepreneur calculates his success in terms of how much social returns he has achieved. So then what is social entrepreneurship?
Social entrepreneurship is simply the collective work of social entrepreneurs. When done within a country’s borders it is referred to as social entrepreneurship whereas when done outside a country’s borders it is called international social entrepreneurship Bornstein (12). Some of the word’s most recognized social entrepreneurs include the following:
Raul Oscar Abasolo: he operates in Chile and is mostly involved with alleviating youth poverty.
Rafael Alvarez: he is the founder of Genesysworks in America that is involved in expanding youth horizons after high school and college.
Istvan Aba-Horvath: this Hungarian based social entrepreneur involved with promoting child education in his backyard.
Manish Sankila: based in India and also involved with empowering the youth towards self employment for the better of their future life. Manish strongly believes that when the youth are empowered the rest of the society is also empowered because they not only form the majority but also the future of a society.
History of the term social entrepreneurship can be traced back to 1950s and 60s when it first appeared in print literature. This continued to 1980s and 90s with the works of people like Bill Drayton. Bill together with Charles Leadbeater popularized the social movement in Europe, USA and some parts of Asia. They were joined by Michael Young in their endeavors. In fact Harvard professor Daniel Bell describes Michael as “’the world’s most successful entrepreneur of social enterprises’. This was undoubtedly due to his immense work in building about 60 social institutions worldwide (Munoz, 21). The famous among them include school of social entrepreneurs that has branches in Australia, UK, and Canada.
In the contemporary world, whenever the term social entrepreneurship is mentioned, people like Muhammad Yunus come into our mind. He is the founder and proprietor of Grameen Bank and Nobel peace laureate of 2006. Yunus is most recognized for his revolutionary method of making it possible for the word’s poorest people to access credit from banks. Thus he saw a social problem and came up with a strategy to assist his people while at the same time making profits. To some extent also in the contemporary world social entrepreneurship has evolved into organizations like foundations, NGO’s, social enterprise and etc. generally social entrepreneurship remains relevant and appreciated by many societies today as it was in the last century.
The importance of social entrepreneurship
According to modern social entrepreneurship website the first and obvious importance of social entrepreneurship is employment creation. A close look at the objectives of some of the most famous entrepreneurs supports this conclusion. This is why most of them target the society’s most vulnerable groups i.e. the children, the youth, disabled and women. This can be in the form of empowering individuals to start their own businesses or better still starting business ventures and employ them. No human being is totally unemployable, provided one is alive; there is one or two things that he/she can engage in to assist him/her become productive. For instance a cripple can be a shoe shiner in the same way a blind can be a singer. The only thing that such individuals need is empowerment. Thus social entrepreneurship has been seen to be one surest way to end abject poverty especially in less developed economies of the world.
Secondly another direct importance of social entrepreneurship is the ability to bring forth new goods and services in societies. This is due to the innovative nature of social entrepreneurship. The fact that social entrepreneurs target where individuals at the grass root level gives them an upper hand to come with innovative ways to tackle a society’s most pressing problems. A good example is Veronica Khossa; a Brazilian based social entrepreneur who came up a home based care model for people living with aids. It was so innovative and effective that the Brazilian government (through the ministry of health) decided to use it as a government policy!
Next, social entrepreneurship has proved to be a strong pillar in building social capital. Social capital is the communal holding, sharing and managing of a society’s resources. This was historically promoted by the communist ideologies of the eastern block (Bornstein, 33). The protagonist of such ideologies argues that it is better for a society to share the little available resources and every one feels satisfied than just enrich a few individuals while the rest are suffering. Examples of economies that have embraced this model are Japan, Germany and china. Judging from the way such societies have developed, we can comfortably say that social entrepreneurship is the way of the future. With the right approach and tools, social entrepreneurship can easily turn a third word country to be middle earner in a very short time.
Last but not least, the topic of importance of social entrepreneurship can not be complete without mentioning how it promotes societies and individuals achieve (or almost achieve) equality. This point is closely related to the previous one that talked about social capitalism. We can say this is the ultimate achievement of social entrepreneurship. A dream that is dear to almost all protagonists of social entrepreneurship – society where each and every individual is productive and economically able to sustain himself. For instance by supporting the disabled to support themselves is not only beneficial to them but also to the whole society because there will be no need to be looking after them like little children. A good example is professor Yunus’s case of economically empowering disadvantaged women in society. The American social entrepreneur J.B. Schramm’s case of helping financially unable students to attend school also deserves a special mention in such a case (Muhammad, 63).
How social entrepreneurship can contribute to society
The benefits that social entrepreneurship can bring to society are immense and can not be over emphasized if the case of Nobel laureate Yunus is anything to go by. It has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that is a strong change agent in societies. Below are some of the contributions that social entrepreneurship can bring to society as supported by (Munoz, 101).
- Charitable institutions
- Welfare program
- New products
- Government advisors
Starting with charitable institutions, it can be said that most social entrepreneurs set up institutions that target to improve the living standards of the downtrodden. Such institutions include schools, hospitals, vocational training institutions and etc. All this is meant to serve the societies they are operating in. this is an immense contribution to societies especially where poverty levels are high.
On the same note social entrepreneurs have been known to contribute to society in terms of direct donations they give for various purposes. All these are just aimed at improving the living standards of the less privileged people in society. For instance an entrepreneur like Istvan Aba-Horvath in Hungary donates a lot of funds towards promoting the education of Gypsy children. Therefore this is a great contribution that social enterprises have towards societies in which they are operating (Munoz, 12).
Welfare programs are yet another contribution that social entrepreneurship has to societies. Each and every society has its own unique welfare programs that are aimed at improving the lives of all people. Social entrepreneurship contributes to such programs through funding such organizations, empowering communities or even providing the welfares by themselves. Such welfares programs include helping the disabled, taking care of orphans, feeding the elderly among others.
Social enterprises have earned themselves the tag of being the most innovative and in touch with society’s most pressing needs. Due to this they are able to come up with new products and services that are aimed at addressing the society’s challenges. This is a very great achievement as far as contributions of social enterprises are concerned. The great philosophers once said that necessity is the mother of inventions and this as been demonstrated by man’s endeavor to survive on this planet called earth.
Social entrepreneurship has also demonstrated that it can contribute to the society through sponsorships. Such arrangements are common in educational circles where an entrepreneur can sponsor individuals who have excelled in their academics but are not able to continue with their academic dreams due to their financial inability. In fact there are some social enterprises that have set up foundations and trust funds specifically for this purpose. This is a great way to bring about social quality through empowering individuals using knowledge (Muhammad, 52).
Finally we can say that social enterprises have contributed to society through advising the governments on various issues that affect the society. This is because they have close contact with the people on the ground. A good example is that case of Brazil where a social enterprise devised a model of treating and managing people living with HIV/Aids that was adopted by the government on national scale. What started as a small experimentation on local level became something of national importance. Social enterprises have also been closely working with governments on various social issues affecting societies worldwide.
It is important to note here that whereas I have tried to explore the contributions of social enterprises on society, this is not exhaustive. There are many other contributions that are indirect but equally important. For example we can say that through empowering individuals to fend for themselves, they bring about reduced crime rate in society. Thus providing security to society though in an indirect manner. Thus this is a crucial part of society that should not be overlooked at all costs (social entrepreneurship website).
Expected future developments
Going by the recent developments, we can comfortably say that social entrepreneurship is going to be the thing of the future. For instance there is this instance on international level whereby the wealthy of countries of the world will be measured by how much they contribute to assist the poor nations of the world. This in itself is a great step towards achieving an equal society and even if it is not social entrepreneurship directly, its targets or objectives are the same as those of social entrepreneurship. Going to the future there is likelihood that more states of the world will recognize the role of social entrepreneurship in society and national development and thus support and appreciate it fully (Bornstein, 71).
There is also a likelihood that social entrepreneurship scope will enlarge to involve such entities as community based organizations (CBO), trust funds, governments’ stipends, foundations among others. This is because whereas it is true that all this entities are formed for special objectives, there ultimate aim is societal development which is also the same goal for social entrepreneurship.
Additionally most of the business entrepreneurs that we know today may turn to social entrepreneurship as a way to return to society. This can be seen by the likes of bill gates and bill Clinton. These two individuals have formed foundations that are meant to alleviate human suffering in some of the world’s poorest places on the world like Africa (Bornstein, 73). There is likely hood that more will follow suit and the ultimate result will be an equal society – a good dream indeed or isn’t it?
In conclusion, it can be said that social enterprises remain to be a positive force, change agent and above all an empowerment tool. Social enterprises remain the most effective way to come up with leading edge innovations to meet society’s most challenging needs. The fact that social entrepreneurship emanates from the grass root level should not make it be overlooked as a panacea. This is because it works within the frameworks of economy and society. Therefore it deserves special attention from policy makers, entrepreneurs, scholars and academic theorists. This is very vital to all countries of the world especially those facing high incidence of abject poverty.
Social entrepreneurship should not be looked as fighting the governments and other stakeholders in the provision of services and goods that societies need, but rather they should be seen as contributing to the already existing efforts for the better of society in general. Therefore all the government needs is to regulate them so as to work within the prevailing framework in the most efficient way possible. Wherever possible there is no harm to work hand in hand after all we are all serving the same society.
Summary and Recommendations
From the foregoing discussion, it is very clear that social enterprises have a very critical role to play towards the welfare of societies. In fact it can not be emphasized more than this. Therefore the ball remains on policy makers, entrepreneurs and all of us to fully embrace and appreciate the role it plays in our lives. We can’t ignore it any more. With good policies and right approach to application of social entrepreneurship, societal development and well being is guaranteed. The following are some of the recommendations I have come about in my research.
- There is need for all governments of the world to fully recognize the role that social entrepreneurship plays in developments of society. This then will also be recognized by the state laws.
- Secondly there is urgent need for all entrepreneurs to also set apart some of their resources towards social entrepreneurship. There is no need to focus on enriching oneself while the majority of people are languishing in poverty.
- There is also a need to come up with sound policies to regulate, enhance and develop the works of social entrepreneurship. After all in most if not all the cases they play the same roles that are supposed to be played by governments.
- Third and lastly, the fight against abject poverty and suffering starts with you and me. This is a great war that can not be left to governments and entrepreneurs alone; we should all play our part no matter how small it is to make a difference. Even just sharing information with some one can bring a big difference.
Munoz, J.M. (2010). International Social Entrepreneurship: Pathways to Personal and Corporate Impact. New York: Business Expert Press. Available at: http://www.businessexpertpress.com/books/international-social-entrepreneurship .
David Bornstein, (2009). How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Oxford University Press.
Yunus, Muhammad; Jolis, Alan. (2007). Banker to the poor: micro-lending and the battle against world poverty. New York: Public Affairs hc. pp. 46–49.
The modern social entrepreneurship available at: http://www.business4good.org/2007/04/importance-of-social-entrepreneurship.html
Time is precious
don’t waste it!