Social entrepreneurship is, in my mind, the pinnacle of innovation. It represents a world of good, of capitalism at its best. It’s under this banner that business leaders and innovators build systems and market strategies that yield both economic and social returns.
Or, more plainly, in its list of the top thirty social entrepreneurs, Forbes defines a social entrepreneur as “a person who uses business to solve social issues.”
What sorts of social issues, you ask? Every sort you can imagine and then some: providing glasses and footwear to people in the developing world, making safe drinking water finally accessible, transforming waste streams into fertilizers and energy solutions for the rural poor, engineering ready-to-use therapeutic foods to deliver essential nutrients to starving children (MANA).
In the fashion industry, TOMS is a popular example of the one-for-one model: For each pair of shoes or glasses purchased, the company donates the same to someone in need. Warby Parker is another brilliant example, offering one-for-one (super stylish) eyewear.
There are other business enterprises focusing on job creation and skills training, like Raven + Lily and Amani ya Juu. And still others like Redeeming Grounds and Kicheko, that invest profits in under-resourced or conflict-ridden places in order to sow seeds of life in dark places.
There is no shortage of causes, of needs in this world. But then there are also organizations like Ashoka that have been training and supporting social entrepreneurship for decades—leveraging powerful business strategies and expertise to solve the world’s most challenging problems.
And so we’d like to spend the next eight-weeks exploring the concept of social entrepreneurship more deeply and sharing stories of change-makers leading the way. We are genuinely inspired by these efforts and consider it a privilege to spread the word as they change the world.
We hope you’ll join us…and them!