Before the social enterprise concept even came to life, the limit between the profit and non-profit world has never been so clear.
Social issues were addressed within the context of a non-profit organization through fundraising and humanitarian aid whilst business was focused on profit and market share increase.
The possibility of bringing these two worlds together by introducing the human within the business, and financial independency within the organization seemed to be a challenge, especially when these entities were already in place and functioning.
The social enterprise was created to reconcile the business sense of a company with the social cause of an organization, within one entity.
And what globalization has introduced implicitly, is the opportunity to combine and merge different concepts and principles, that even though different from the outside, will eventually lead to innovation.
Social Entrepreneur or Business Entrepreneur?
Caught between social engagement and profit, is social entrepreneurship in an identity crisis or is it an innovative concept?
For a traditional enterprise success is linked to the amount of profit that has been made, whereas for a social enterprise measuring the efficiency of the project is directly linked to the social aspect. Considering that the social or in other words the targeted community is the reflection of the success or failure of a social enterprise.
The challenge is to maintain the balance between the social purpose and the financial sustainability to keep on feeding the enterprise.
Furthermore one of the pros of social change is its contagious ability; by bringing more people on board, the replicability of the project becomes a natural answer rather than a pure financial study only focused on numbers and profit.
The passion and motivation of the social entrepreneur are significant to the sustainability equation. Whereas the selection of a meaningful career is crucial when it comes to the determination of the entrepreneur.
Being part of the social change circle, gives a personal satisfaction that leaves the social entrepreneur wanting more and working harder in order to enlarge his scope of social impact.
Whether a person is a social entrepreneur or an intrapreneur within his company, change is the main and final destination, however the road to take in order to get there is totally up to them.
An Opportunity for Change
We live in a time of crisis where social, environmental and economic problems are becoming part of our daily lives. Tackling these social issues leaves a lot of room for creativity and innovation.
A difference in perception is clearly what distinguishes a social entrepreneur from a business entrepreneur. Whereas by looking at the same problem, some people have the ability to see it as an opportunity for change rather than an issue to be solved by keeping it as such.
By breaking the vicious cycle of dependency that philanthropy has created, people become more self-reliant, and as a consequence, in control of their own destiny, placing empowerment at the heart of social entrepreneurship.
Educating the targeted community by building their capacities and reinforcing their skills, is a stepping stone towards sustainability, and a key to a long lasting impact that will benefit future generations to come. As opposed to a one-time donation that will fulfill an urgent need for a limited period of time without the consideration of resolving the root of the problem, that will eventually and tirelessly emerge again.
Tackling the essence of the problem, will allow the beneficiaries to understand the negative impact they are suffering from, preparing them to address it and confront it, using the right tools. By strengthening their sense of responsibility, the problem transforms into an opportunity showcasing the ability of a community to alter from a receiver to a giver in charge of their impact on society.
Becoming an agent of change is a responsibility within itself, but once success comes along motivation and determination become the sustainability drivers of the social enterprise.
Moreover, when the purpose of the idea is positive change in society, the personal satisfaction becomes much more rewarding.
*Rima El Khoury comes from a background in Political Science and International Relations. She holds a Masters Degree in Sustainable Development and Corporate Responsibility from EOI (Escuela de Organizacion Industrial) in Madrid.
Source: Responsible Business Magazine