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A case for social entrepreneurship

Pritham Raja
27th Feb 2016
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Entrepreneurship is all the rage now. Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. However, there is something more exciting than just entrepreneurship – social entrepreneurship. A for-profit social enterprise is one that has a mission of creating value for the society or the environment while generating returns for its investors.

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

If you are interested in entrepreneurship and a budding entrepreneur, here are seven reasons why you should consider social entrepreneurship instead. As an engineer, I’m more familiar with tech entrepreneurship than other fields of entrepreneurship. Therefore, my comparisons are primarily with tech startups. But you can extrapolate these reasons for startups in other sectors as well.

  1. Passion: Entrepreneurship is always driven by passion. In fact, this is what Steve Jobs had to say when asked for entrepreneurial advice “People say you have a lot of passion for what you’re doing, and it’s totally true. And the reason is because it’s so hard that if you don’t, any rational person would give up.

It’s really hard and you have to do it over a sustained period of time. So if you don’t love it, if you’re not having fun doing it, if you don’t really love it, you’re going to give up….

… If you really look at the ones that ended up being successful in the eyes of society, and the ones who didn’t, often times it’s the ones that are successful love what they did so they could persevere, you know, when it got really tough….

…So, you gotta love it, you gotta have passion.

It’s much easier to be passionate about a social cause and therefore be more successful as an entrepreneur

  1. Huge scope for innovation and creativity: In most sectors, there are more people working on ideas than there are ideas. There is an app or a website for almost everything unless you are at the cutting edge of technology or you are in a niche market. Would-be entrepreneurs are always looking for a problem to solve, whereas there are so many defined problems in the social sector that we already know of, and that need solutions. Since the problems are generally well defined, it’s easy to find a market and need for your venture. But the difficult part is using your creativity and innovation to come up with a solution that would work.
  2. Funds and support: There are a lot of funds and non-financial support available for social entrepreneurs. In fact, funds and organisations are always on the lookout for viable social enterprises to support as there are only a handful of them out there that have established a sustainable business model. From what I’ve seen, there is more money available out there than there are viable projects that require funding.
  3. People love working with us: In my experience, contractors and service providers love working with us. They generally tend to put in more effort and give us more attention than their other clients. We are the client that they take pride in working with and talk to others about. Everyone wants to help someone with a cause, and people love it when they get to do it through their jobs.

Our cause is a natural motivator for contractors, employees, and service providers, so it makes founder’s job easier.

  1. Different cultures: As someone who loves diversity, one of my favourite aspects of being a social entrepreneur is the diversity of the people I work with. On a regular basis, I meet with some of the fashion industry’s top executives, trafficking victims who barely have a cent to their name, the owner of a multi-million dollar manufacturing firm, social workers who work in remote villages, senior government officials, and many more.

As an educated, middle class person working in corporate America, I never realised the bubble I was living in until I started my social venture. Suddenly, I’m interacting with people who are much less fortunate than I am and had to really struggle through life. It opened up my worldview and I learn so much from everyone I interact with.

One of the greatest perks of being a social entrepreneur is that you get to work with a diverse set of people from different strata of society.

  1. Diversity among fellow entrepreneurs: As an entrepreneur, you will inevitably interact with fellow entrepreneurs. Some of them will eventually become your friends or might work with you. Social entrepreneurs are a diverse group of people especially when compared to tech entrepreneurs. There is less of a gender gap and they tend to come from a wide variety of educational and economic backgrounds.
  2. Satisfaction with what you do: When you wake up every morning, knowing that what you do is changing someone’s life – it’s absolutely surreal.

Here is the honest truth: You probably won’t become a billionaire by starting a social venture. But in every other way, starting a social venture is so much more fulfilling than starting a regular venture. Besides, you’ll make enough money to live comfortably and most regular entrepreneurs don’t end up becoming billionaires anyway.

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