Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship

Over the past few decades, people have seen the need to not only identify problems that plague their society, but provide lasting solutions to them. Hence, the need for social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurs recognize these problems and create innovative measures to curtail them. Meaning that they act as change agents towards development.

David Bornstein, one of the finest authorities on the subject, states that the role of social entrepreneurs is to ‘identify resoures where people only see problems, view the villagers as the solution (not the passive beneficiary) and [always] unleash resources in the communities they are serving.’ Unlike business entrepreneurship, which is aimed at maximizing profit, the aim of social entrepreneurship is to provide new approaches that create value in the society.

In underdeveloped nations particularly in Africa, there is an increasing need for social entrepreneurs, due to the mounting economic problems in the continent. Issues on poverty, unemployment, housing, insecurity and broken infrastructure among many others, need to be tackled to sustain these nations.As the concept of social entrepreneurship becomes increasingly relevant, social entrepreneurs have increased over the years.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation in Nigeria advocates for economic and social development across Africa through entrepreneurship. Founded by Tony O. Elumelu in 2010, the foundation’s main philosophy is to empower a generation of successful for-profit entrepreneurs who drive Africa’s economic and social transformation. Thousands of entrepreneurs across the continent have benefited from the yearly seed capital funding given by the foundation every year.

One Acre Fund created by Andrew Youn in Kenya has helped train, fund and support East African farmers with seeds and fertilizers. This support has helped many farmers grow their crops and earn a living.

Lioness of Africa is another social enterprise; founded by Melanie Hawken as an online community of women in business,  and also provides support to the start-up dreams of women across Africa.

Entrepreneurs who desire to make an impact in their societies should explore the option of social entrepreneurship. Once a need has been identified, a potential business opportunity will emerge. We need social entrepreneurs,  forward-thinkers who can determine our social problems and move aggressively towards solving them. Anyone with a desire to solve a pressing need and take risks, can become a social entrepreneur. It is important to stay committed to your goal as a social entrepreneur. As it is with running any venture, it take time, effort and consistency before one can achieve the desired success.