Friday, 7 March 2008

What is a Social Entrepreneur?

"They were a ragtag group of misfits and mavericks, heroic figures, seemingly single-handedly bringing jobs, healthcare and education to deprived communities. They were visionary and relentlessly optimistic, but practical and pragmatic. They self-consciously applied business methods to social problems, but weren't motivated by profit. This iconoclastic, inspirational, sometimes frustrating and often self-promoting group did not even have a name for themselves."
Charles Leadbeater

I looked it up and discovered that social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change. Rather than leaving it to the government or business, social entrepreneurs find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading u to take new leaps.

Social entrepreneurs seem to be possessed by their ideas, committing their lives to changing the direction of their field. They are both visionaries and ultimate realists, concerned with the practical implementation of their vision above all else.

Each social entrepreneur presents ideas that are user-friendly, understandable, ethical, and engage widespread support in order to maximize the number of local people that will stand up, seize their idea, and implement with it. In other words, every leading social entrepreneur is a mass recruiter of local changemakers—a role model proving that citizens who channel their passion into action can do almost anything.

I think on that basis we are all social entrepreneurs!

Chris

5 comments:

Chris said...

Hi Chris,

Having just got back from the Social Enterprise Coalition's national conference, where the question "What is a Social Entrepreneur?" was widely discussed, I hope I can add something to your post.

I come from a background of education in Leeds... well, actually that's not quite true: I attended school in Leeds and my parents were both Headteachers within the authority (my mother still is). I went to university to study economics and got involved with an organisation called AIESEC. They take some of the most talented undergraduates in the business faculty and try to come up with "innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems" such as environmental change, cultural awareness and of course... education. They do some fantastic work at The Business School at Leeds University, for example.

You talk about inspiration a lot in your blog, and mine came from my father. He had designed a computer system for tracking, in detail, the progress each pupil had made in his school. I had a minor role initially but when I graduated I founded a 'Community Interest Company' - a legally-constituted social enterprise - to develop his system much further and bring it to many more schools.

We've already started to work with a few LAs around the country, although I usually have to explain what a social enterprise is at the outset! It's great to see "social entrepreneur" entering mainstream vocabulary. The next step is for social enterprises to enter mainstream policy.

Chris.

Chris'Blog said...

Hi Chris, thanks for your comments. It was good to hear from you.
Chris

Chris said...

No problem. I also noticed this week's New York Times magazine focuses on social entrepreneurs. It makes for interesting reading:

http://www.nytimes.com/pages/magazine/

I hope we'll get the chance to meet soon.

Chris.

Chris'Blog said...

Hi Chris, I hope we can meet soon. I think the materials your Dad developed are really good and I would be interested to see how it has developed.
Chris

Chris said...

Great! I'd love to share a few ideas with you. I'll give Althea a call next week and see when there's a gap in your diary.

Chris.