What is a Social Entrepreneur?

Social entrepreneurs drive social innovation and transformation in various fields including education, health, environment and enterprise development. They pursue poverty alleviation goals with entrepreneurial zeal, business methods and the courage to innovate and overcome traditional practices. A social entrepreneur, similar to a business entrepreneur, builds strong and sustainable organizations, which are either set up as not-for-profits or companies.

A social entrepreneur is a leader or pragmatic visionary who:

  • Achieves large scale, systemic and sustainable social change through a new invention, a different approach, a more rigorous application of known technologies or strategies, or a combination of these.
  • Focuses first and foremost on the social and/or ecological value creation and tries to optimize the financial value creation.
  • Innovates by finding a new product, a new service, or a new approach to a social problem.
  • Continuously refines and adapts approach in response to feedback.
  • Combines the characteristics represented by Richard Branson and Mother Teresa.

These are some definitions by The Schwab Foundation but I would like you to listen carefully to the interview to Pamela Hawley CEO of UnversalGiving.org, recently awarded with the Jefferson Award (the Nobel Price for public service).

5 minutes of great stuff, with stories that will inspire you while trying to define what it is for her a social entrepreneur, basically, an entrepreneur (somebody who starts up an initiative), making a difference for somebody, looking for revenues fot his/her cause.

Her starfish story perfectly defines a social entrepreneur actitude.

One day a small boy was walking on a beach with his father: suddenly thousands of starfishes jumped from the ocean to the sand: out of their living environment they started to die and the small boy just did what he could and throwed 3 of them back into the ocean, saving their lives.

The adull asked for him:”There are thousands of fishes on the beach, what is the matter?” And the small boy answered:” It matters to these ones I saved”.

A wonderful reminding not to be overwelmed by huge problems like extreme poverty, refugees flow or education for everybody in Africa: if you impacted ONE person in need today, your day was worth living.