This article will focus on detailing the four pillars that support Social Entrepreneurship as a serious, sustainable and inevitable alternative to classical entrepreneurship, the atomic activity of classical capitalism. Being supported by steady pillars, Social Entrepreneurship aims to replace traditional business conduct and perspective in order to generate a new form of economic infrastructure for all humans sharing this planet. This revolutional economic institution that is put forth by Social Entrepreneurs around the world is called Social-Capitalism, and nowhere is this economic infrastructure better established at the moment than the Scandinavian countries, notably Sweden, Finland and Norway. But for now, let’s keep our focus on understanding what exactly are the four cornerstones that enable Social Entrepreneurship to erect itself upwards and allow us to hope it’s rise as high as the sky so this world can be a nicer, more sustainable and more equal place to live for all of us human and living beings of earth. These four pillars of Social Entrepreneurship are what permits us to be what we are: Humble Dreamers
Altruism is first stone of the Social Entrepreneurship monument. It is the fundamental value that orients an individual seeking to make a positive impact on its community and on the world as a whole. Thus, an individual being directed by altruism, a value at the core of his/her perspective on life, and uses the business world as an entrepreneur to generate a positive impact, is most likely what we call a Social Entrepreneur. Indeed, altruism is the value that allows an entrepreneur to evacuate the need to maximize profit at all costs, a practice that we sadly see too much in this early 21st century, and focus rather on maximizing what is called “social profit”. Put another way, profit is the benefit pursued by the classic entrepreneur, we can call it “financial benefit”, while “social profit” is the benefit desired by the social entrepreneur, this we can call “social benefit”. Hence, altruism is the value that distinguishes the entrepreneur’s inclination to look internally to maximize personal benefits or externally to maximize social/collective benefits. Remember that the social entrepreneur seeks to make some profit, so its business can be sustainable through time, but the goal is not to maximize profit, simply realize some. Altruism is what enables the individual to maximize its happiness and pride through helping others with business solutions, creating social benefits for the community, rather than relying on financial gain to feel happy and proud of him/her self because of a larger bank account.
2-Long Term Conscious Thinking
The second pillar of Social Entrepreneurship is long term conscious thinking. This perspective, fundamental to social business, sees the world with respect and appreciation for the natural processes that create resources used by man to increase its level of comfort in this life. The world, seen through a long term conscious perspective, is not a piggy bank in which the human species can just take all the resources it needs right now for its immediate desires. This way of seeing things belongs to the more classical entrepreneur, largely personified by large corporation, who are themselves “moral persons”, but tend to have a very short minded “unconscious” way of thinking, always aiming to maximize next quarters profits so the shareholders can be happy and so the “intrapreneurs” within big business can receive a bonus, a raise or a promotion. This short-term thinking is very dangerous for our species, and the Social Entrepreneur fully understands this. That is why he or she has the capacity to express long term conscious thinking through its business model, its business offer and its business solutions. Great respect for nature and the environment is at the core of this long-term capacity of producing business and strategic thoughts, because Social Entrepreneurs understand that a large bank account is useless if there is no more water to drink, no more food to eat, and no more hospitable land to live on.
The first two pillars were mostly morally value based, now we get in more business value based cornerstones of Social Entrepreneurship. The third cornerstone, as important as the other pillars in order to keep the social business monument steady and solid, is efficient management. Efficient management is very popular in the traditional business world as it is a great tool to maximize bottom line profit, as all type of costs and expenses are minimized through this type of management. The Japanese Kaizen system was one of the first type of efficient management systems to be globally studied and reapplied, and from there came the notion of just in time production, as well as many other “efficient” processes. Hence, efficient management has been around for quite a time, so the question rightfully asked is: why is efficient management a pillar for social entrepreneurship? The answer is quite simple. The basic survival of a social enterprise largely relies on internal efficient management practices so it can produce external benefits. Business agility is at the core of Social Entrepreneurship. It is through an efficient infrastructure and efficient processes that this kind of business venture can develop and grow in a competitive economic world. A Social Entrepreneur absolutely needs to rely on efficient management practices in order to fulfill the social and communal mission of its business, as the more inefficiencies there is within the business, the less social benefits can be offered to the community and society as a whole, which goes against the fundamental purpose of Social Entrepreneurship.
4-Innovative and Creative Business Mindset
Finally, the fourth and last cornerstone of Social Entrepreneurship is an innovative and creative business mindset. This pillar is crucial to any hope of success for a Social Entrepreneur as it is through this innovative and creative thought process that social business solutions are developed to help answer the needs of underprivileged communities. Innovation and creativity are key qualities for social entrepreneurs as they aim to develop business offers that answer specific social needs at a very reasonable cost for the consumer, whether this consumer is in American, European. African or Asian countries. This pillar ensures what is called “competitive advantage” in the classical capitalistic economic infrastructure, as it is only through innovation and creativity that a social enterprise can achieve advantages on its competition. Indeed, its other hopes of gaining competitive advantages are very slim if inexistent outside of an innovative and creative business mindset. That is why the Social Entrepreneur necessarily needs to develop this personal asset in order to make its business venture a successful one.
In conclusion, we have seen the details of what constitute the cornerstones, the pillars of Social Entrepreneurship. These are the values, keys and tools that need to be utilized at the core of any social enterprise for it to survive and prosper in this competitive 21st century we are all in. These are the core elements that will make a difference in the motivation and aspiration of any Social Entrepreneur to make a difference in this beautiful but tired and sick world we find ourselves sharing. Let these pillars be the basic guidelines of Social Entrepreneurship.
By Tobi Rodrigue
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