Social entrepreneurship is a field that deals with the recognition of social problems in society and using entrepreneurial concepts, operations, and processes to achieve a social change (Mair 2006, 2). It pertains to research to identify a particular social problem facing the community and then initiative measures aimed at achieving the desired change. The change, in this case, may entail a lifetime process aimed at improving the prevailing situation.
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A social entrepreneur is a person who uses innovative ideas aimed at solving current problems in society. These people are always willing to do all it takes including taking risks to create a positive change in the community using their innovative ideas. In this case, when social entrepreneurs identify a certain social problem in the community, they immediately initiate a solution to get the community out of the social problem (Gunn 2010, 40).
Social entrepreneurship is characterized by many traits. For example, corporate entrepreneurs who transform the industries, social entrepreneurs transform and improve the communities. They try taking every little opportunity that others are not able to identify to build social value. However, unlike ordinary business entrepreneurs who seek to make profits, social entrepreneurs seek to transform society by initiating positive change rather. Nevertheless, this does not mean that they do not need money. They also need capital to be able to fund the projects aimed at initiating the changes needed in society. Also, it is important to remember that the work of social entrepreneurs is not only aimed at realizing immediate effects but long-term change also (Mair 2006, 2).
There are growing social ventures in the world with some focusing on the environmental problems facing society, such as climate change. In this regard, several social ventures try to attract attention to the problem of the environment or actively try to fix the occurring problems. There are also child rights foundations fighting for the rights of children in society such as UNICEF. Women empowerment organizations are also an example of social ventures.
Taking into account all the different directions that social entrepreneurship may take, the main feature of social entrepreneurs should be distinguished. Social entrepreneurs are those people linked to non-governmental and non-profit organizations raising funds through events and activities in the community and promoting positive changes (Gunn 2010, 44).
The modern world has many social entrepreneurs whose work has made a positive change in society. Muhammad Yunus, the founder, and chief executive of Green Bank and the Nobel Peace Prize winner for his social venture in 2006 is a classical example of a social entrepreneur. He won the prize due to his social venture that has witnessed speedy growth and benefited a large part of the society (Gunn 2010, 6).
The George Foundation is one of the well-known social entrepreneurs in the country. The organization deals with women empowerment by creating awareness among women in society through education, cooperative farming, vocational training, savings planning, and business development programs. Women empowerment helps address social problems thereby transforming society positively.
Rong De is another classic example of a non-profit social enterprise. It is an Indian social enterprise formed in 2008 by Smita Ram and Ramakrishna to improve the lives of the poor Indian population by providing online services through which micro-finance loans can be accessed at low-interest rates of 2% per annum. Through the program, lenders all over India can provide credits to borrowers, monitor investments, and receive payments online regularly (Mair 2006, 3).
Libecap defines eco-entrepreneurship as a practice of setting up a business in response to a recognized opportunity to earn profit and provide a positive environmental externality or minimize negative environmental externality (Libecap 2009, 21).
Eco-entrepreneurship is built on the idea of benefiting society in general, not directly involved in the transaction (Libecap 2009, 21). However, just like other corporate ventures, eco-entrepreneurship also aims at making profits to keep the business operational, but it considers protecting the environment as well. The activities of an eco-entrepreneur are mainly concerned with the production of goods and services that are environmentally friendly.
An example may be producing goods with greater energy efficiency but with low carbon emissions, that pollute the environment (Libecap 2009, 22). In this regard, a person who purchases such a product may enjoy the cost-saving, which might not have been the principal reason for purchase, but the benefits of minimal carbon emissions will be enjoyed by everyone in the society (Libecap 2009, 22). This is because the level of greenhouse emissions to the atmosphere will be minimized thereby mitigating the impacts of climate change.
The eco-enterprise is built on innovative actions and sustainable values. The eco-entrepreneurs’ innovative actions include resource creation, trading time, residual resources, and resource advocacy. The eco-entrepreneurs sustainable values, on the other hand, include shelf-sufficiency, self-relationship, self-care, passion, connection, intention, and manifestation (Wagner 2008, 9).
There are several examples of eco-enterprises in the modern world. Waterless Company Inc. is a classical example of an eco-entrepreneur that has been in operation since 1991. The company deals in the manufacture of waterless urinals, and therefore, does not need flushing. The principal feature of the company’s urinal is the patented EcoTrap (Wagner 2008, 11). The technology is a recognized tool for effective water conservation, which saves a lot of money estimated at over 45,000 gallons annually. This is beneficial for society is that water is increasingly becoming scarce due to an increase in demand. Further, it reduces water bills leading to cost-saving. Other examples of eco-enterprises include the Sea Breeze Power Corporation and Mica-Tech Incorporated (Wagner 2008, 12).
Gunn, Robert, and Durkin, Chris. Social Entrepreneurship: A Skills Approach. Portland, OR: The Policy Press, 2010.
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Libecap, Gary D. In Search of Knowledge Management: Pursuing Primary Principles. New York, NY: Emerald Group Publishing, 2009.
Mair, Johanna, Robinson Jeffrey, and Hockerts, Kai. Social entrepreneurship. Hoboken, NJ: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
Wagner, Marcus. Eco-Entrepreneurship – An Empirical Perspective based on Survey Data, 2008. Web.