So, who is a social entrepreneur ? How is a social entrepreneur different from a normal entrepreneur ? This was the question a friend asked me while I was chatting with him. I didn’t have a definite answer, just told him this –
(a social entrepreneur is different from the usual entrepreneur) in a way that your primary objective is not to make profits (so as) to buy a condo in palm beach. There is a cause you are passionate about..and that cause helps others build their lives too..
Then I forgot about the conversation till the evening, when I was reading the synopsis of Mohd. Yunus’ speech. One link led me to another, and I landed at David Bornstein’s blog. Apart from his book being something to read next, I found out on his blog about his Hart House Lecture. Till I read the document, I didn’t know anything about the Hart House lecture. This document describes very simply what a social entrepreneur is, what drives them, what makes them different and most importantly – how many opportunities exist in the citizen sector.
The lecture (pdf document) is definitely worth reading for anyone, irrespective of their interest in social entrepreneurship. There are a few things noteworthy from his lecture and a few lines I thought were definitely striking. Here are a few notes of mine
- First one needs to remember that this lecture is being given to youngsters who might consider a completely different line of work and stick to it. So, this lecture was to show them another oppurtunity that exists.
- Instalments are very important for us. Without them most of wouldn’t have been able to finish college or get a house. Economically and socially too, ability to provide people with fair-priced credit, hence, is very important.
- The sacrifices some of the social entrepreneurs had to make is also an important point. Once they get so involved with their ideas, there is a good chance that their personal lives might take a hit
- Mr.Bornstein doesn’t concentrate only on Grameen Bank. He talks about a few other social entrepreneurs too.
- He talks about the social entrepreneurs, like any entrepreneur changing their strategies as they face tough situations. The central idea for them is the alleviation of poverty (or some other social cause), and they strive for that.
- The quote by Doris Lessing is really nice – I think when people look back at our time, they will be amazed at one thing more than any other. It is this—that we do know more about ourselves now than other people did in the past, but that very little of this knowledge has been put into effect.
- In the final chapter he puts a very simple point across, which I think gives the message across –
I have spoken with young bankers and lawyers and managers who would drop their pens in mid-sentence and quit if they won the lottery. I don’t know a single social entrepreneur who would do the same. What does that say? Who is more self-sacrificing? If you have a wide range of options, as many people in Canada and the United States do, why spend your days doing something that your heart isn’t into?
8. The interesting observation he makes is the creation of the support industry for the social entrepreneurs. Apart from empowering the people with limited access to credit, but also helping other ventures with a new business opportunity, these ventures might be truly creating a win-win situation
Read the document when you have time. I think it is time well spent.