Dispelling 5 common myths about social entrepreneurship

By Kirti Punia|28th Jun 2013
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Social entrepreneurs are looked up to. They are called the agents of social change. With their innovative solutions to some of the most disturbing and pressing social issues, they run their ventures for the greater good of the society. There is a rising wave of social entrepreneurship in the world but there still are many myths and misconceptions in a larger segment of society about it. These myths keep many people from being a part of this positive phenomenon. Here are some of the most common ones:

Myth 1: Social entrepreneurs don’t care/don’t know about business. Their ventures are not for profit.

Reality : The biggest and most wide spread myth breeding many more myths is that social entrepreneurs run only non-profit ventures. Social enterprises can be for profit, not for profit and also a hybrid of both. Social entrepreneurs running their for profit social ventures care and know about each aspect of business development and strategy as much as any other entrepreneur does. They develop their business ideas for the least developed markets, deploy their solutions with the worst infrastructure support and service people on the lowest rung of the ladder and still have a sustainable or profitable venture.

Myth 2 : Social entrepreneurs care only about lasting impact not revenues.

Reality: Yes, making a positive impact is the major objective of a social venture but it doesn’t mean they don’t make money. Read Myth 1 again. Forget profits for a moment, but just think how can lasting impacts be created without resources and revenues? Social entrepreneurs care about being sustainable, keeping the cash flowing, good revenues and better profits while helping and bettering the society. Like any other entrepreneur, they look at profits and returns along with a positive return to the society. Social enterprises have the word ‘enterprise’ in it for a very valid reason.

Myth : Social enterprises are not scalable.

Reality : The scalability of any venture is dependent on many factors including the business model, strategic planning, impeccable execution, managed growth etc. And they are applicable to any kind of enterprise. Scalability has nothing to do with being in a certain category of entrepreneurial space.

Myth : Social entrepreneurs are do-gooders, not real entrepreneurs.

Reality : They do good, a lot of it, by the means of their businesses. Their journeys of success or failure are in all ways similar to any other entrepreneur. The passion for their ventures, the cynicism for every detail, the challenges faced in the market, the difficulties of convincing customers, the pain of raising capital – they are as much of an entrepreneur as anybody can be.

Myth : Social entrepreneurs just need to melt hearts, not get wallets opened

Reality : Taking the path of social entrepreneurship is anything but easy. For developing innovative products, providing meaningful services and helping the less privileged segment of the society, they need resources. It may look very alluring from the outside but it is certainly not as charismatic as it appears. Melted hearts can provide a reassurance in your idea and a push to do more but the resources and the support to do it comes from capital.

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