This second article is a logical continuation of the first one, in which we explained why there seems to be an economic vacuum in our globalized capitalistic infrastructure. We concluded that this void gave room to young leaders like yourselves and ourselves to create solutions so we could build a better tomorrow for our human specie. In our humble minds, social entrepreneurship is the sole solution as a counterweight to an out of control financial profit-craving capitalistic ship. Our Titanic is quickly floating towards an iceberg, and although it might be rapidly melting due to our industry, the collision impact is none the less undeniable. But social entrepreneurship is such a recent notion that it needs to be clearly defined so we can all be on the same conceptual level.
What is social entrepreneurship?
Therefore, this article will focus on defining what is social entrepreneurship. We will make a crisp distinction between social entrepreneurship, a new economic posture for young leaders, versus other forms of “social ventures”, such as NGO’s, government based initiatives, philanthropy and basic volunteering. Each of these solutions to socio-economic issues are very valuable and noble, but they are far from what social entrepreneurship is all about. In the upcoming paragraphs, we will aim to achieve a clear understanding of what is a social entrepreneur, an enlightened and conscious economic soldier in an issue prone 21st century. As you will see, altruism, efficient management, long term conscious thinking and an innovating and creative business mindset are the foundations, the four pillars, that support social entrepreneurship as an effective counterweight solution to an out of control capitalistic ship. Let us now start explaining, by method of comparison to traditional social actions, what is social entrepreneurship.
The first social force to lay out is the most common organization that comes to mind when we mention the words “social” and “economy” in the same sentence. The non-profit NGO type organization is what most of us would shout out if we were asked about structural solutions to worldwide challenges. We need only to think about names such as Oxfam, World Vision, Doctor’s without borders, Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, Amnesty International, and the list can go on and on for this whole article. Non-governmental organizations are often a short-term solution to very urgent problems, and they mostly rely on external support for them to accomplish their mission. Indeed, most of the funding for NGO’s come from governments or private donations. Most of these organization rely solely on others to generate revenue, which can put them in delicate situations, and many must shut down operations because they do not receive enough funding. Another issue many NGO’s face is at the level of human resources. We see a lot of volunteer work around the world to keep these organizations going, and much of the work of these volunteers is often to seek funding to support the activities of their respective organizations. All this said, NGO’s have a vital role to play in our societies, and we are far from downplaying their relevance and importance in the global social welfare. The reason why this type of organization cannot play the role of counterweight to the capitalistic infrastructure is because they are fully dependent on that infrastructure in order to survive. If there is not enough wealth generated through the free-market financial economic structure, they often are the first ones to suffer and see funding drastically drop, it is as simple as that.
Government Based Initiatives
The second social force we would like to showcase is government based initiatives, such as UNICEF, IMF (International Monetary Fund), United Nations, and many other government ran initiatives. Although most of these organizations have a positive impact around the world, they are simply a social extension of the global market forces that have shaped our global economy. These organizations have so many political implications attached to the governments that influence and fund them that it is hard for us at Humble Dreamer to conceive of these as a real social counterweight to our out-of-control financial profit craving economic infrastructure.
The last social force that has much more relevance to each of us as individuals, because this is where we can have a personal and very direct impact is philanthropy, whether it is financial philanthropy, or temporal philanthropy, also expressed as volunteering. This is where it is easiest for everyone and anyone to act as an individual solution to social issues. The reality is that too few have the capacity, the energy or even the time to be a philanthropist because of the obligations they have as actors in the global financial economic infrastructure. Between their jobs and their family needs, few have the capacity to act as individual counterweights to a very heavy economic structure that focuses solely on profit making. Although there is definitely a positive impact to give of one’s time and resources, the gap remains enormous between the solutions and the social challenges. Even if everyone gave at once, this solution would never be sustainable, it would always need to be repeated, and people would simply run out of personal resources.
As we have gone through the list of social forces susceptible of acting as a counterweight to a rapidly growing financial free-market profit seeking economic infrastructure, we have seen that none are designed to provide a sustainable solution to social challenges around the world. We have arrived at the understanding that there is no real existing traditional force capable of acting as a social and cultural counterweight to this aggressive economic structure we all find ourselves living in this 21st century.
All this being said, there fundamentally is a true effective counterweight to the financial free-market profit seeking infrastructure, and it has slowly and quietly evolved since the beginning of this new millennia. Social entrepreneurship is an innovative, different and much more human way of doing business and generating wealth around the world. A major distinction between traditional and social entrepreneurship is that wealth is not only considered in financial terms, it is most of all considered as social wealth, whether it be health, quality water, quality foods, quality air, or even education. All these forms are considered by social entrepreneurs as social wealth, and they are all constituents of the motivation that push young innovative leaders to become social entrepreneurs. A social entrepreneur is someone who creates social wealth through a business model that identifies business opportunities where real physical and social needs exist, and although they aim to generate a positive return on investment, the financial targets they fix are far less aggressive than traditional entrepreneurs. Being based on altruistic values, social entrepreneurship seeks to maximise social return on investment, providing it’s “customers” a lot more than a simple product or service, it aims at elevating the quality of life of communities they have established as markets. Therefore, social entrepreneurship is an actual economic position based on four pillars, cornerstones of providing sustainable solutions to global social challenges. Among those pillars is the most fundamental one, altruism, which motivate social entrepreneurs to invest time and money, not only to make profit, but principally to provide business solutions aiming to solve social challenges. This is why social entrepreneurship is an effective and sustainable counterweight to the financial free-market capitalistic infrastructure we find ourselves living in, as it is just another way of creating and building businesses, based on human values, and not only on market values. Social entrepreneurs are the solution within the problem, as they utilize all the business knowledge and strategies that have been developed over the last centuries, but the objective is far different. Instead of maximizing wealth for the private investor, it seeks to maximize wealth for society at large, creating innovative solutions to radiate social inequalities.
In the next article, we will focus on detailing the four pillars of social entrepreneurship in order for us all to understand what are the cornerstones to a sustainable way of doing business around the world in order to elevate the standards of living of every single human on this earth.