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For a very long time not enough attention has been paid to the importance of social entrepreneurship in bringing about development in our societies. Despite half hearted efforts by the protagonists of this phenomenal to bring into attention of everyone about the importance of this aspect in enhancing our social economic lives, nothing much has really been achieved. The reason for this can be attributed to the slow pace that governments and other stake holders are taking in recognizing the important role that this entities play in our society. This is the major content of this report.
The report begins with a short description of the problem at hand. It gives a brief summary of the history of social entrepreneurship, its recent developments and the possible way forward. This is then followed by an in depth analysis of all the available literature as far as this important subject is concerned. The answer to the problem question (how can social entrepreneurship contribute to society?) is well dealt with in this section. Last but not least I conclude my report with a summary and recommendations of the major findings of the report. It is my hope that this report will form a solid basis for the concerned stakeholders to act so as to full tap the potential of social entrepreneurship in our societies.
Before introducing what we mean by social entrepreneurship, let’s define who is a social entrepreneur. There are many ways in which a social entrepreneur has been defined but nevertheless a common agreement exists. Munoz (13) defines a social entrepreneur as an individual who takes his/her time, spirit, and energy to build better communities as opposed to personal businesses for personal gain. On the same note Bornstein (11) also defines a social entrepreneur as someone who look to the world, recognize a problem then uses the principles of entrepreneurship to organize, build and manage such a venture to realize positive social change. A critical look at these two definitions simply shows more or less the same thing. It is only approach that differs. Generally speaking a social entrepreneur is an individual who is set out to bring positive change in the society through the various programs he has decided to undertake. A social entrepreneur is different from a normal entrepreneur in that whereas a normal entrepreneur calculates his success in term of how much profit he has made, a social entrepreneur calculates his success in terms of how much social returns he has achieved. So then what is social entrepreneurship?
Social entrepreneurship is simply the collective work of social entrepreneurs. When done within a country’s borders it is referred to as social entrepreneurship whereas when done outside a country’s borders it is called international social entrepreneurship Bornstein (12). Some of the word’s most recognized social entrepreneurs include the following:
Raul Oscar Abasolo: he operates in Chile and is mostly involved with alleviating youth poverty.
Rafael Alvarez: he is the founder of Genesysworks in America that is involved in expanding youth horizons after high school and college.
Istvan Aba-Horvath: this Hungarian based social entrepreneur involved with promoting child education in his backyard.
Manish Sankila: based in India and also involved with empowering the youth towards self employment for the better of their future life. Manish strongly believes that when the youth are empowered the rest of the society is also empowered because they not only form the majority but also the future of a society.
History of the term social entrepreneurship can be traced back to 1950s and 60s when it first appeared in print literature. This continued to 1980s and 90s with the works of people like Bill Drayton. Bill together with Charles Leadbeater popularized the social movement in Europe, USA and some parts of Asia. They were joined by Michael Young in their endeavors. In fact Harvard professor Daniel Bell describes Michael as “’the world’s most successful entrepreneur of social enterprises’. This was undoubtedly due to his immense work in building about 60 social institutions worldwide (Munoz, 21). The famous among them include school of social entrepreneurs that has branches in Australia, UK, and Canada.
In the contemporary world, whenever the term social entrepreneurship is mentioned, people like Muhammad Yunus come into our mind. He is the founder and proprietor of Grameen Bank and Nobel peace laureate of 2006. Yunus is most recognized for his revolutionary method of making it possible for the word’s poorest people to access credit from banks. Thus he saw a social problem and came up with a strategy to assist his people while at the same time making profits. To some extent also in the contemporary world social entrepreneurship has evolved into organizations like foundations, NGO’s, social enterprise and etc. generally social entrepreneurship remains relevant and appreciated by many societies today as it was in the last century.
The importance of social entrepreneurship
According to modern social entrepreneurship website the first and obvious importance of social entrepreneurship is employment creation. A close look at the objectives of some of the most famous entrepreneurs supports this conclusion. This is why most of them target the society’s most vulnerable groups i.e. the children, the youth, disabled and women. This can be in the form of empowering individuals to start their own businesses or better still starting business ventures and employ them. No human being is totally unemployable, provided one is alive; there is one or two things that he/she can engage in to assist him/her become productive. For instance a cripple can be a shoe shiner in the same way a blind can be a singer. The only thing that such individuals need is empowerment. Thus social entrepreneurship has been seen to be one surest way to end abject poverty especially in less developed economies of the world.
Secondly another direct importance of social entrepreneurship is the ability to bring forth new goods and services in societies. This is due to the innovative nature of social entrepreneurship. The fact that social entrepreneurs target where individuals at the grass root level gives them an upper hand to come with innovative ways to tackle a society’s most pressing problems. A good example is Veronica Khossa; a Brazilian based social entrepreneur who came up a home based care model for people living with aids. It was so innovative and effective that the Brazilian government (through the ministry of health) decided to use it as a government policy!
Next, social entrepreneurship has proved to be a strong pillar in building social capital. Social capital is the communal holding, sharing and managing of a society’s resources. This was historically promoted by the communist ideologies of the eastern block (Bornstein, 33). The protagonist of such ideologies argues that it is better for a society to share the little available resources and every one feels satisfied than just enrich a few individuals while the rest are suffering. Examples of economies that have embraced this model are Japan, Germany and china. Judging from the way such societies have developed, we can comfortably say that social entrepreneurship is the way of the future. With the right approach and tools, social entrepreneurship can easily turn a third word country to be middle earner in a very short time.
Last but not least, the topic of importance of social entrepreneurship can not be complete without mentioning how it promotes societies and individuals achieve (or almost achieve) equality. This point is closely related to the previous one that talked about social capitalism. We can say this is the ultimate achievement of social entrepreneurship. A dream that is dear to almost all protagonists of social entrepreneurship – society where each and every individual is productive and economically able to sustain himself. For instance by supporting the disabled to support themselves is not only beneficial to them but also to the whole society because there will be no need to be looking after them like little children. A good example is professor Yunus’s case of economically empowering disadvantaged women in society. The American social entrepreneur J.B. Schramm’s case of helping financially unable students to attend school also deserves a special mention in such a case (Muhammad, 63).
How social entrepreneurship can contribute to society
The benefits that social entrepreneurship can bring to society are immense and can not be over emphasized if the case of Nobel laureate Yunus is anything to go by. It has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that is a strong change agent in societies. Below are some of the contributions that social entrepreneurship can bring to society as supported by (Munoz, 101).
- Charitable institutions
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