The current (economic/political) climate is ideal for the application of entrepreneurial approaches to social problems. The concept of entrepreneurship, long hallowed in the context of business and economic ventures, is being trialed for social problem solving. Social entrepreneurship demonstrates a drive in the investigation for answers to the foremost social and ecological problems.
The failure of market economies to provide equity – both “intragenerational” and ‘‘intergenerational’’ – has made room for the emergence of social entrepreneurship. The challenge of providing a response to numerous social struggles necessitates originality in conventional business designs. The growth of social entrepreneurship brings back the archetypal debate of embedding social within the economics.
Several major transformations across the globe have hastened the maturity ofsocial entrepreneurial dialogue and praxis. Poor governance, extreme inequality, limited public sector capacity and political intransigence are inadequacies that have led toserious social discontent. Social enterprises identify these gaps and competently employ resources to fill them.
The proliferation of the detrimental impact of the global economic crisis of 2008 underscored the call for creative social and environmental solutions able to offset the challenges produced by so-called “wicked problems” defying a straight jacketed approach. Wicked problems like climate change and environmental degradation; inequality and poverty; lack of access to basic healthcare, clean water and energy, and mass migration etc. persist despite concerted global efforts.
The rise of social media and information technology has stepped up the exchanges between social entrepreneurs, funders, civil society and other stakeholders. The participation of persons as social actors is being correlated with the growth of a “pro-am” culture and the surfacing of ‘new” globalism”.
No doubt, the buzz around social entrepreneurship is fairly contemporary; however, the ingenuity that utilizes entrepreneurial proficiency and spirit to get to the bottom of social problems is not new. Undeniably, the practice of social entrepreneurship is well ahead of the conceptual construct. In the global north, social enterprises are irrefutably playing a crucial role in social welfare and environmental policy innovation.
They likewise, are helping to reinstate buoyancy and trust in economic activity post global financial crisis of 2008. In the global south, social entrepreneurs are emerging as well ingrained actors in the distribution of public goods and services; they operate on a spectrum ranging from small-scale neighborhood solutions to poverty and social deprivation, to functioning almost as a quasi-government in terms of welfare provision and employment.
Social entrepreneurs and enterprises quintessentially symbolize a deep-seated innovation in terms of their strategies, structures, norms, and values, and are considered rational and functional substitutes for public and charitable sector resource constraints. Just as non-profit organizations originated to address market and government failures, social enterprises are fashioned to tackle the issues that for-profits, government, and non-profits fail to spot; this inter-sectorial dynamics.
Social enterprise initiatives ideally break the silos among organizational clusters, configuring themselves as hybrid entities with shared objectives aimed at blended value creation. These entrepreneurs are characterized by altered and mixed behavior, a strong entrepreneurial orientation, and above all, an unquestionable accent on social innovation. Therefore, the embryonic field of social entrepreneurship is quickly drawing increased deliberation from many sectors.
As a consequence of the novelty, it becomes tricky to institute a collective and universal understanding of the framework of social enterprise. Social enterprises carry out noteworthy equivalent responsibility by appealing for an exceptionally decentralized experimentation and investigative way that augments the choice of opportunities presented when dealing with existing social and environmental challenges; hence providing a critical component designed for enhancing its adaptive effectiveness. Social Enterprise is a means to an end; it is not itself capable of defining social needs or assessing whether the burdens of meeting these needs are being shared equitably.
Some leading social entrepreneurs like Susan B. Anthony (U.S.) fought for women’s rights in the United States, including the right to control property, and helped spearhead adoption of the 19th amendment. Vinoba Bhave (India) founded the Land Gift Movement; he affected the redistribution of more than 7,000,000 acres of land to aid India’s untouchables and landless.
Dr. Maria Montessori (Italy) developed the Montessori approach to early childhood education. Florence Nightingale (U.K.) was a founder of modern nursing; she established the first school for nurses and fought to improve hospital conditions.
The War Cry magazine sold by the Salvation Army since 1879 is nearly example of a social enterprise activity that are-invested profits to support homeless people. There are many other key historical social entrepreneurs of the 19th century who founded major social enterprises that continue to respond to community issues and promote community betterment today.
William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, and Robert Owen, the founder of the Co-operative movement, for example, are each key figures in establishing the earliest examples of social enterprises. John Muir (U.S.) was a naturalist and conservationist who established the National Park System and helped found The Sierra Club. Jean Monnet (France) was in charge of the reconstruction of the French economy following World War II, including the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).
More recently, highly successful technologists-turned-social entrepreneurs like Jeffrey Skoll and Pierre Omidyar of eBay, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, have inspired other entrepreneurs to help redress today’s global social problems.
Besides, an array of complementary support institutions have established themselves as change makers; the Schwab Foundation and the Skoll Foundation who coupled with Ashoka on a global level, are examples. Global support organizations have emerged, such as the Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and the Social Entrepreneurship Foundation SEF Swiss.
In Germany, the Bertelsmann Foundation and the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt are examples of organizations that are active in the field of social entrepreneurship. Within Europe, Italian cooperatives in the 1980s marked the beginning of wide-scale social entrepreneurship.
In 2018, report published by Social Enterprise UK illustrated in 2018,a report published by Social Enterprise UK illustrated that there are around 100,000 social enterprises contributing £60bn to the UK economy, representing a 25% increase from 2015; this represents 3% of UK GDP – three times more than the agricultural sector – and 5% of all UK employment.
The ‘social’ in Social Enterprise is vacuous unless, and until, it is defined clearly. An existing nebulousness surrounding social enterprise is approbatively and fails to delineate the social in the economic. The current status of social enterprise is yet to achieve a paradigmatic consensus. However, despite the apparent constraints of its pre-paradigmatic status, analyses of social enterprise propose its institutionalization, characterized by its own narrative logics, with a distinctive organizational model.
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