What Is A Social Entrepreneur? (Definition And Examples)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 19 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Different types of entrepreneurs focus on solving a variety of problems in a domain, industry or marketplace. Social entrepreneurship is one type of entrepreneurship where professionals work to improve social outcomes for individuals. Understanding the role of a social entrepreneur may help you guide your journey while becoming one. In this article, we examine what social entrepreneurship is, list its benefits, describe how to engage in this field and offer examples of social entrepreneurship in practice.

What Is A Social Entrepreneur?

The answer to the question, "What is a social entrepreneur?" is that they are people who develop new applications with the potential to solve community-based issues. These professionals take calculated risks and organise efforts to make a positive difference in society through their initiatives. Social entrepreneurs may believe that by engaging in their practice, they may be able to connect with their life's purpose, assist others in finding theirs, and make a positive impact on a community or society. The development of a business or organisation for improving social outcomes for a specific group of people is social entrepreneurship.

Social entrepreneurship differs from more traditional types of entrepreneurship in some important ways:

  • Focus: A traditional entrepreneur often looks for a gap in a market and creates a business model that meets customer needs. A social entrepreneur looks for a social need they can address, and create a business or structure that supports that specific community.

  • Goals: In traditional entrepreneurship, the goal is usually to make a profit. In social entrepreneurship, the primary goal is to contribute positively to society.

Related: How To Become A Social Worker: Skills, Salary And Duties

Basic Criteria For Social Entrepreneurship

In addition to serving a capitalistic market, a desire to help build a better community, society, or world motivates social entrepreneurship. Profit may be a secondary goal for social entrepreneurship, depending on its structure and how it funds product development or service delivery, but it is rarely the primary driving force behind the venture. In most cases, an entrepreneurial endeavour meets these criteria to become a social entrepreneurship initiative:

  • Cause: A social entrepreneur may identify a social cause that leads to inequality for a marginalised group with little to no resources or agency to pursue their interests.

  • Opportunity: A social entrepreneur may see an opportunity or a way to improve the living standards of a particular group of individuals.

  • Solution: A social entrepreneur may possess the ability to provide a solution to the group to improve their lives or address relevant social issues.

Benefits Of Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship offers several advantages to the entrepreneur, to the group the entrepreneur serves and to the social community at large. These are some of the most remarkable benefits of engaging in social entrepreneurship:

  • Inspiration: As a social entrepreneur, you have the unique opportunity to not only make a difference in the marketplace or for a specific group of people but also to inspire other entrepreneurs, customers and change-makers.

  • Responsibility: Social entrepreneurs' products and services meet a critical need in the marketplace. While many entrepreneurs fill a gap in the consumer market, social entrepreneurs provide a service or product to a marginalised group of people.

  • Relationships: Social entrepreneurs benefit from the ability to form relationships with business-minded administrators and socially conscious change-makers. Because social entrepreneurship combines business and social change, you may get opportunities to collaborate with a diverse group of people.

  • Value: Your company or project can add both social and economic value to the marketplace. Government agencies are frequently in charge of social programmes, but if you start a socially conscious business venture outside of government oversight, you may effect change faster and more efficiently than if you go through government agencies.

  • Improvement: For running a business, not every company considers the societal impact. Because social entrepreneurship actively seeks to improve quality of life for a segment of society, such initiatives can significantly improve your community in ways that profit-driven businesses may not.

  • Leadership: As a social entrepreneur, you are the leader of your company and have complete control over how it operates. You may serve as the primary role model for how your employees conduct themselves within and outside the company.

  • Employment: You create jobs when you start a new business venture. As a social entrepreneur, you are not only providing jobs for the community, but also actively serving to provide value and resources.

  • Positivity: Having a reputation as a company that gives back to the community and focuses on helping others can help you attract investors and maintain goodwill with customers.

Related: 12 Different Types Of Entrepreneurship

How To Become A Social Entrepreneur

If you are interested in engaging in social entrepreneurship, follow these steps:

1. Identify your passion

Identify a cause that you are passionate about before you start a venture. In this type of entrepreneurship, passion is essential as profit is typically a secondary motive. Individuals typically require patience and dedication for starting a new business, and this is sometimes even more so for the social side of entrepreneurship.

2. Research the arena

Once you have decided on a cause you want to support with your business, do some research. Try to understand the cause of the problem you wish to solve and understand its effects. Try to see if there are any other organisations in the field or companies you could consult for advice on how to structure and operate your business.

3. Write a mission statement

Research your desired cause and develop a comprehensive idea of what you want to do and how you want to do it. After doing so, write a clear and comprehensive mission statement to help guide the inception of your company. Ideally, your mission statement can answer these questions.

  • What can my organisation do?

  • How can my organisation meet its goals?

  • Who is my organisation serving?

  • What value can my organisation provide?

4. Establish your team

Build your team around the values and practices outlined in your mission statement. You may start the business with a partner or other stakeholders. But as you get closer to engaging in your target market, hire qualified employees who can help you achieve your objectives.

5. Develop a business model

Develop a business model with the help of your team. Your company can achieve the objectives and deliver the value you outline in your mission statement through a detailed business model which acts as a road map. Business models also include information about how you plan to fund your operations and organise logistical aspects of the venture.

6. Start small

Begin operating on a small scale or offer a few services to get your business started. Try not to feel obligated to solve the issue you have set out to solve right away. Rather, do the best you can with the resources you have at present. You can progressively expand the scale of your operations with time.

7. Be adaptive

Recognise that any entrepreneurial venture, social or otherwise, requires innovation and adaptation. Modify your practices and strategies to stay on track to meet your long-term objectives. Try to add value to the marketplace by addressing crucial social and economic changes.

8. Seek support

Many social entrepreneurs rely on investors or donors to get their ventures started. Try to seek funding from both businesses and philanthropists for your cause. They can assist you in growing and expanding your business.

9. Scale-up

Expand your business operations according to the availability of resources. When you have sufficient funds, labour and resources to expand, create a systematic expansion plan and follow through with it. It can take years to scale up, but doing so slowly and deliberately can ensure your company's sustained success.

Related: Entrepreneur Skills: Definition And Examples

Examples Of Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship can take a multitude of forms. Consider a few examples of social entrepreneurship in action to see how you can structure a socially-minded venture:

  • Crowdfunding: You can start a company that assists underprivileged individuals or groups in raising funds for specific needs or in case of emergencies.

  • Cooking or baking: You can cook or bake and sell your products to raise funds for individuals or a community.

  • Technology: You can create technology or tools to assist marginalised groups in meeting their needs.

  • Travel: You could start an organisation that assists people who are interested in going to a foreign country for educational purposes.

  • Employment: You can assist disadvantaged or marginalised groups in learning about the job market and finding employment.

  • Promoting: You can assist artisans in selling their wares through an online or in-person platform to which they may not have access otherwise.

  • Lending: You can help budding entrepreneurs in underserved sectors start their businesses by lending money to them.

  • Housing: You can construct houses for individuals and groups that may not be able to afford it.

  • Mentoring: You can provide mentorship to individuals or groups who could benefit from it.

  • Diversifying: In a variety of settings, such as schools and businesses, you can promote diversity and educate others on the value of diversity.

  • Supporting: You can create a collective marketplace where people who do not have access to business resources can market their skills or products.


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