May 12, 2020
Driven not so much by profit as by societal needs, social entrepreneurship stems from the developed passion of a societal focus. Social entrepreneurs then take that focus in order to establish an enterprise directed towards solving social issues or aspiring to create social change. Social entrepreneurship is vital in our society because it sets the foundation for businesses to discover innovative methods in order to solve the world’s modern-day issues.
Devising a successful business plan can be tough. In terms of social entrepreneurship, that first step starts with finding and figuring out how to target a community in need. In today’s world, there are a variety of opportunities for businesses to create positive change. While we desperately need to evolve toward a greener planet, there are many other opportunities for improvement in areas such as clean water and children’s education worldwide. These are just the beginning of Earth’s societal issues.
The ideas created through social entrepreneurship have the ability to generate jobs in underserved areas of poverty, environmental disadvantage, and racial injustice – thus bringing positive change to the local economy. Do you wonder where an idea of yours falls under the category of social entrepreneurship?
- Community Project: Small-scale effort to address a social, environmental, or economic issue within a specific community
- Non-Profit Organization: Goal is to create an enterprise solely focused on a specific cause, not to generate revenue for shareholders and stakeholders
- Cooperative: A group that addresses a specific need; often form cooperatives or co-ops. These member-operated enterprises typically focus on basic needs like housing or groceries.
- Social Enterprise: Focus is to provide job skills training for marginalized people and use proceeds from the business to pay salaries to populations supported by the non-profit organization
- Social Purpose Business: Intended to generate profit and create change for the benefit of the general public or a specific community in need
There are a plethora of benefits that come along with the establishment of a social enterprise:
- Stress on marketing and promotion is generally relieved due to being a mission-based business that generates good press and exposure that other companies struggle to receive
- Social entrepreneurs may also become eligible to receive funding from grants and investments to help support the growth of their enterprise.
There is an abundance of government agencies or private organizations that may be applied in order to receive funding.
But what does social entrepreneurship look like in practice? Take a closer look at Charles D. Close School professor Scott Quitel’s non-profit, LandHealth, which focuses on the environmental health of Philadelphia, PA.
The effect of a non-profit business like LandHealth extends past its own community and those it serves. As Quitel says, “social entrepreneurship is about the founding of an enterprise that attacks a problem and that is fueled by the personal passion of the founder. For me, that problem is the mass destruction of natural habitat and the resulting mass extinction of species, carried out by humans in the name of progress”. Additionally, the institute hires cooperatives who want to absorb the ins and outs of what it takes to be a social entrepreneur in their journey to building their own company.
Quitel’s Drexel co-ops, Samantha and Taisia, have gained a lot of experience at LandHealth. The two are quite passionate about what they do for Quitel’s institute and look forward to taking their gained wisdom to affect change in communities beyond those in Philadelphia and the U.S.
“Working with Scott has really changed my perspective on entrepreneurship…I have always pictured entrepreneurs as this very specific type of people living in Silicon Valley, focused on creating the next Airbnb or Uber…After meeting Scott, I have realized that anyone can start their own business and do something that they are truly passionate about,” says Taisia.
As a result of working under Quitel, Samantha quickly learned that there are several possibilities for all types of social entrepreneurship to develop efforts or products that serve a community or broader cause. While Samantha looks to implement her gained knowledge in a broader sense, Taisia plans to implement her experience of social entrepreneurship into her own family’s long-time operating small business.
Social entrepreneurship benefits all people who become involved, whether it’s through producing the change or receiving the aid. Startups that impact social good, such as LandHealth, are those who continue to make our communities strong, healthy, and educated.
For future social entrepreneurs, we leave you with Scott’s Quitel’s wisdom on getting started:
“To aspiring Social Entrepreneurs: start in your heart! Everybody has a true passion for a problem in society, what’s your soul-searing passion? Don’t know yet? Then go somewhere where you can remove all distractions and then go DEEP – into your own heart and soul. Once you have found your Driving Passion, you’re on the right path to social entrepreneurship. But note well: You need your own Driving Passion – because a social mission is grindingly tough and at times even seemingly hopeless. It’s your Driving Passion that will propel you through the grind.”
Through his own driven passion, Scott is able to go above and beyond. Not only aiding the community through his work at LandHealth but also helping young entrepreneurs at a time when opportunities are hard to find. The world is currently facing times of uncertainty and actions by entrepreneurs like Scott help ease those challenges. While he is helping Drexel students pave their path to entrepreneurial success, others in his position can follow suit by making their own social difference – big or small.
Authors: Zack Kaiser, Jeffery Cunningham (Drexel Co-op Student ’21)