24 December 2012

Social Entrepreneurship

Social Entrepreneurship, Institute of digital marketingA dictionary defines the word entrepreneur as: ‘One who undertakes an enterprise especially a commercial one, often at personal financial risk….’ So, the term entrepreneurship carries within it a spirit of adventure, the spice of novelty and the expectation of gain. Profit and returns are an intrinsic part of business enterprise by which any businessman assesses the success of his venture.

Enterprise, innovation, initiative, impact --- these are some of the words most commonly associated with Social Entrepreneurship.
¨      Enterprise suggests the willingness to take risks.
¨      Innovation is the creation of something new.
¨      To initiate is to begin / start / introduce.
¨      Impact means a strong influence.
Social entrepreneurship addresses the need for social changes by initiating enterprise. Innovation in the initiatives undertaken to bring about that change are examined to measure the impact they have had on society just as entrepreneurship in business measures performance in terms of profit.

When the term ‘social’ is added to entrepreneurship, the entire phrase is endowed with implications. The goal of social entrepreneurship is  improvement and  change, especially in the social, environmental and cultural areas of society. Change of this nature is generally associated with the voluntary sector and non-profit agencies. However, making a profit need not be excluded.

The success of social entrepreneurship is measured by the positive impact on society. Ventures intended to bring about social change are assessed by their success in the social, environmental and cultural fields.  Even before the action was given a name, social entrepreneurs have sighted opportunities for bringing about changes for the betterment of society. In India alone, Vinoba Bhave pioneered the Bhoodaan movement, a venture by which he persuaded rich land owners to donate a part of their land to landless villagers. In more recent times, the names of Ela Bhatt, Verghese Kurien and Bunker Roy are associated with outstanding  initiatives. Ela Bhatt is the founder of SEWA --- the Self Employed Women’s Association; Verghese Kurien made milk deficient India the largest milk producing nation in the world. The AMUL brand is a household name. Bunker Roy founded the Barefoot College whose innovative education programs promote rural development.  These Social Entrepreneurs are just a few among several people who are driven by the desire to use their skills and capabilities to make a difference in the lives of the poor, the marginalized, and the deprived.
Various types of deprivation provide  creative, socially conscious individuals with the blank canvas on which to produce solutions that are sustainable,  scalable and also financially satisfying to those who participate in them.

 Another attribute of the Social Entrepreneur is curiosity. Almost all the conveniences that we enjoy today are the result of someone asking, ‘WHY?’ and then providing an invention or a system that showed the rest of us ‘HOW’!  As a system, the cooperative movement has demonstrated great effectiveness. Inventions that will harness solar energy, initiatives that  provide livelihoods to women, that will keep children happily engaged in educational programs these are some of the many ways in which social entrepreneurs impact on the environment and the people who occupy it!   

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