social entrepeneur

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

Shiza Shahid was born and raised in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan and began her life as a social activist in her early teenage years. By the age of 14, Shahid was working with children born in women’s prisons and volunteered at a relief camp during the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in Kashmir, 2005.

At the age of 18, Shahid received a scholarship for Stanford University which she graduated from in 2011. However, Shahid returned to Pakistan in 2009 after hearing about the Taliban’s ban against women’s education and their bombing of over 2,000 girl schools.

Around that time, Shahid watched a New York Times documentary about Malala, a then 11-year-old girl who was secretly blogging for the BBC about her educational struggles in Pakistan. Shahid and Malala connected, and Shahid organised an entrepreneurial and empowerment camp for Malala and twenty-six other girls. Just three years later, Shahid flew to Birmingham, England, to visit Malala in hospital. Malala had been shot in the face by the Taliban for defying their education ban.

Powered by Malala’s resilience, Shahid and Malala co-founded the Malala Fund in 2013, a social enterprise which created access to safe, high-quality education for young girls in Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya, and Sierra Leone. The Malala Fund was Shahid’s most crucial social enterprise mission. Still, thanks to Shahid’s business mind and connections, the Malala Fund has expanded and has even partnered up with Apple Inc. to expand its training and support to girls in India and Latin America.


What is Social Entrepreneurship?


Social entrepreneurship is a mindset. Social entrepreneurs have the drive to create innovative and effective solutions for social problems, whether they’re local, organisational, communal or international.

A social enterprise, on the other hand, is a business model whose blueprint design creates both social change and financial return (regardless of whether they’re profit or non-profit). While grants, loans or philanthropic donations may initially fund a social enterprise, the ultimate goal is to become self-sustaining.


How Does Social Entrepreneurship Look?


Being a hybrid of entrepreneurship and social change, the landscape of social entrepreneurship is vastly diverse, meaning its sometimes difficult to determine whether or not an individual, or company, is part of a social enterprise.

Where individualistic social entrepreneurship dominates the US, Europe has more cases of organisational social intrapreneurship. Social intrapreneurship is where an individual (or sector of an organisation) drives social change within the company.

This distinction is then subdivided by the four core aspects of social entrepreneurship: income generation, social impact, job creation and change agents.


Types of Social Enterprises.


Income generation focuses on how a social enterprise can become a self-sustaining business model which remains financially level (or profitable).

Such an enterprise is usually focused on competing with, and potentially overtaking commercial businesses in the same sector by entering their market space and increasing their social effectiveness. Examples of this enterprise would be renewable energy providers, sustainable clothing companies or cruelty-free cosmetic lines.

Social Impact led organisations and entrepreneurs look at the social significance of their organisation above profit. Their mission is to create solutions to social problems such as homelessness, poverty, environmentalism or access to education, etc.

Social impact organisations tend to focus more on the local community with products and services, and they only evolve into change agents once they develop financial strength and support.

Job creation social entrepreneurship looks at creating jobs for those in socially disadvantages positions such as those with disabilities, poor qualifications, homelessness or extenuating circumstances. They may also help those from marginalised backgrounds enter career fields they are prejudiced from entering.

Work integrating social enterprises aim to demonstrate how mainstream industries can incorporate and support the integration of excluded and marginalised people into mainstream businesses.


Social Enterprise: Products or Services?


We then come to the final distinction of social entrepreneurship which is whether or not a social entrepreneur’s business takes the form of a product (like environmentally friendly alternative products) or service (such as education systems or socio-political organisations).

Do you want to make a product or provide a service which helps the poorest and most disadvantaged socioeconomic groups better their lives? Or is your intention to overthrow a current model of product or service to with a more socially responsible version?

Social entrepreneurship is an honourable thing to dedicate your life to pursuing. Still, you need to understand the intricacies of the landscape and use such understanding to devise a useful model on which build your social movement.

Kain Ramsay
[email protected]

As an established teacher of personal and professional growth principles, and a champion of mental well-being, Kain Ramsay is regarded as one of the world’s foremost thought leaders of modern applied psychology.