A Quick Guide to Social Entrepreneurship

Social Entrepreneur

Starting a new business is one of the most popular ideas today, especially amongst our youngsters. So many people attempt to set up their own company, provide an innovative service and chase success. This phenomenon is strongly perpetuated by the media everywhere – almost all publications are abuzz with new kinds of ventures or pioneers pushing the limitations within a particular industry, usually with technology. 

But this isn’t the whole truth: This emphasis on novelty in the business world makes us mistakenly believe that the only way forward is through a radically or extraordinary new idea. Thus, we may unnecessarily struggle, with increasing panic, simply straining to come up with a “new” idea. While this often proves to be a dead-end, there have always been different paths to set up a business. In fact, businesses without any tech innovative or unique service exist all around us as grocery stores, medical stores, clinics, salons, supermarkets, tailors, bakeries and the like. 

These common everyday businesses are a significant part of our economy. They help members of their locality and community with the essential needs: vegetables, meat, milk, stationery, medicine, electronics and hand-made artefacts like toys or bracelets, to mention a few. The fundamental difference here is everyday businesses primarily exist to help people survive, not to make profits. In contrast to an emerging trend of innovative technology-based businesses, these have existed for centuries. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you can always set up an essential service business because it’s a very safe option with greater probabilities for success. 

Shining a Light on Social Entrepreneurship

Exploring further into various business types, we encounter groups of people dedicating themselves to give help, support and relief to pressing and ongoing concerns in the society. These are popularly known as non-profit organizations (NPO’s). Common people come forward voluntarily and offer their valuable help through financial donations, labour and service. They share only a passion to help solve a particular problem and thus, they don’t expect anything in return. Some examples of these concerns are women empowerment, planting trees, cleanliness initiatives and providing essential supplies like drinking water, food and medicine to marginalized people. 

A few popular NPO’s today are: World Wildlife Fund, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the American Red Cross and Khan Academy. NPO’s embrace social entrepreneurship’ i.e., an approach to solve pressing social, cultural or environmental concerns through a non-profit philosophy. In contrast to all other business types, social entrepreneurs measure their performance in their effectiveness in helping their community as well as promoting healthier social, cultural and environmental standards on a large-scale. 

Overcoming the Challenge of Raising Funds 

Social entrepreneurs are passionate about working hard for a noble cause, but they don’t have a clear understanding of financial concerns. In reality, NPO’s do require money to bring together supplies, volunteers, services or facilities in times of need. So, financial issues are one of their biggest obstacles. Because NPO’s are radically different from conventional for-profit businesses, they must raise funds in different ways too. 

Here are some of the best ways social entrepreneurs can raise funds: 

  • NPO’s can appeal to a large category of people showing a potential interest or capability to give donations to the cause. They can later hold some events like workshops, sales, concerts, marathons or any other recreational activity to allow people to socialize, to do something fun as well as make donations,
  • NPO’s can request small amounts of funds from previous beneficiaries to sustain their activities for the long-term,
  • NPO’s can raise funds from wealthy individuals or foundations eager to give financial support to help solve a particular issue,
  • NPO’s can receive funds from government bodies when they follow funding-related rules or conditions for a particular cause. They can also receive help by proposing a cheaper and effective alternative approach to help a particular cause directly to decision-makers,
  • NPO’s can receive goods directly from interested people or corporations, instead of money. They can then distribute these to the needy people,
  • NPO’s can charge fees for certain sensitive issues like human organ donation. To explain, for-profit businesses can’t buy or sell human organs in spite of high demand from patients because it’s considered illegal. But NPO’s can step in and charge small fees to simply provide a platform for people to sell or buy human organs.

The path of social entrepreneurship is always a very good idea. It creates a space for like-minded people to come together and contribute to a meaningful cause, much larger than themselves. 

As a social entrepreneur, your NPO must necessarily have a worthwhile purpose. For e.g., you can help people or living beings in their natural environment live better without bringing any harm. You must be able to clearly communicate this to more people as well, with time. You must also have lots of commitment for your work. Though you may not earn lots of money, you can directly help make the world a better place.