The ecosystem for the entrepreneurship represents the key features which affect the start-up and growth of the business. These features include the following:

  • Investment market
  • Legal framework
  • Networks and partnerships
  • Certification and labels schemes
  • Business support specialist
  • Public support targeting the business

The main aim of the social entrepreneurship ecosystem is to eliminate the possible negative outcomes by identifying the costs and benefits in every aspect.

Despite the tremendous strides in the quality of life that humankind has made in the past two centuries, many persistent problems remain and new ones have emerged. Rapid economic growth and various experiments with activist governments have not been sufficient to lift a huge portion of the world population out of poverty. Curable and preventable diseases still cause tremendous suffering and claim many lives, particularly among the poor. Access to education and the quality of education vary widely across the globe, even within some developed countries. One potentially promising strategy for improvement is to encourage and support social entrepreneurs, individuals, and organizations that bring to social problems the same kind of determination, creativity, and resourcefulness that we find among business entrepreneurs.

Definitions of social entrepreneurship range from broad to narrow. In the former, social entrepreneurship refers to innovative activity with a social objective in either the for-profit sector, such as in social-purpose commercial ventures or incorporate social entrepreneurship or in the nonprofit sector, or across sectors, such as hybrid structural forms which mix for-profit and nonprofit approaches. Under the narrow definition, social entrepreneurship typically refers to the phenomenon of applying business expertise and market-based skills in the nonprofit sector such as when nonprofit organizations develop innovative approaches to earn income. Common across all definitions of social entrepreneurship is the fact that the underlying drive for social entrepreneurship is to create social value, rather than personal and shareholder wealth, and that the activity is characterized by innovation, or the creation of something new rather than simply the replication of existing enterprises or practices. The central driver for social entrepreneurship is the social problem being addressed, and the particular organizational form a social enterprise takes should be a decision based on which format would most effectively mobilize the resources needed to address that problem. Thus, social entrepreneurship is not defined by legal form, as it can be pursued through various vehicles. Indeed, examples of social entrepreneurship can be found within or can span the nonprofit, business, or governmental sectors.

By making social entrepreneurs a recognized, strategic element in the process by which we improve social conditions, we have the potential to make headway in arenas that have remained vexing. The worldwide potential for mobilizing socially entrepreneurial behavior, if we were to make a deliberate effort to promote it, is enormous.


„Entrepreneurs can only be successful if the ecosystem is successful“ Kate Goodall

Social entrepreneurs not only must understand the broad environment in which they work, but also must shape those environments to support their goals, when feasible. To understand and change these social systems, social entrepreneurs should borrow insights from ecology and use an ecosystems framework. Long ago, biologists discovered the limits of studying living organisms in isolation. Biologists gain a much deeper understanding only by considering the complicated relationships between organisms and their environments. They look not only at the impact that environmental factors such as soil and water have on organisms but also at the impact that these organisms have on one another and their environment. Human societies are just as complex as ecosystems, with many different types of players and environmental conditions. Management scholars have recognized the parallels between biological and economic systems. Recently, researchers in the field of strategic management have focused greater attention on the parallels between biological and organizational systems, even adopting the phrase “ecosystem strategy” to refer to an approach for guiding an organization’s strategic choices. Proponents of an ecosystems framework stress the value of understanding the complexity and dynamics of the wide-ranging forces an organization faces.


Investment market

For a social entrepreneur, the social mission is fundamental. This is a mission of social improvement that cannot be reduced to creating private benefits (financial returns or consumption benefits) for individuals. Making a profit, creating wealth, or serving the desires of customers may be part of the model, but these are means to a social end, not the end in itself. Profit is not the gauge of value creation; nor is customer satisfaction; social impact is the gauge. Social entrepreneurs look for a long-term social return on investment. Social entrepreneurs want more than a quick hit; they want to create lasting improvements. They think about sustaining the impact.

Legal framework

The expectations and predispositions of society are different in Europe. A legal framework for charity, let alone social enterprise, does not exist in the same way. As these areas start to embrace a new spirit of enterprise, social enterprise need not be marginal: it can be mainstream, and trigger something bigger. This is why we shouldn’t rush to construct a framework.

NGOs and civil society organisations play an important and niche role. They are an extension of society, they do not replace it and so its growth is slower. In these places you won’t find many people calling themselves an entrepreneur. You won’t find many that realise they are a social entrepreneur. There isn’t a legal framework for doing good. The legal framework overall is trusted less, because in some places the rule of law itself is still being embedded. Many will work outside the rule of law yet still within the locally acceptable moral range, including some of those doing good.

Networks and partnerships

To ensure significant social impact and some form of financial security, social enterprises establish partnerships with NGOs, private companies and/or governments. This certainly has benefits. upscaling is easier, and a social enterprise can make use of the skills of the other parties and gain easier access to informal networks and new markets. And, importantly, the NGOs in the partnership can provide a ‘license to operate’, as they have local connections in developing countries and have most likely acquired legitimacy among the local population and institutions. For new or small social enterprises alone, it can take some time to build such a local network.


Certification and labels schemesSocial entrepreneurs do not let their own limited resources keep them from pursuing their visions. They are skilled at doing more with less and at attracting resources from others. They use scarce resources efficiently, and they leverage their limited resources by drawing in partners and collaborating with others. They explore all resource options, from pure philanthropy to the commercial methods of the business sector. They are not bound by sector norms or traditions. They develop resource strategies that are likely to support and reinforce their social missions. They take calculated risks and manage the downside, so as to reduce the harm that will result from failure. They understand the risk tolerances of their stakeholders and use this to spread the risk to those who are better prepared to accept it.

The Social Entrepreneurship Support Specialist

The Social Entrepreneurship Support Specialist role is critical to the advancement of the programming and mission. The function is to help initiate, coordinate, organize and support a portfolio of social enterprises. The position work in conjunction with community members, leaders, local authorities and partners to ensure that the program is being assessed and successfully implemented through an entrepreneurial perspective. The position is also responsible for providing effective communication to all stakeholders, including but not limited to project stakeholders and the general public in accordance with objectives, policies, and procedures.

Business support specialist

Business Support leaders and specialists are strategic partners to the business delivering a range of services including finance, communications, marketing, human resources, IT, health & safety etc. They provide professional support that assures the smooth running of the business whilst at the same time taking the lead on key issues within their specialist areas which help shape future direction.


Public support targeting the business

Some non-profit organizations prefer not to make segmentation and targeting decisions but this is dangerous because by trying to meet everyone’s needs you can end up with a generalized, low-quality activity meeting no-one’s needs very well. In particular, there are three reasons why you should segment and target. Segmentation and targeting will help you to:

1. Meet needs better

  • Homogeneity of the target group means your organization can specialize, increase expertise and meet need better – higher quality.
  • Allows you to choose the groups you feel are most in need (prioritisation).

2. Apply resources more effectively

  • Cost effective because you can gain the benefits of scale while still meeting need.
  • No/less duplication because you can choose segments that other organisations are not addressing.
  • Raise resources most effectively
  • Supporters can quickly appreciate 2 and 3 above and be assured that you are being thoughtful about satisfying your customers as well as being as cost effective as possible.

Entrepreneurs are innovative.

They break new ground, develop new models, and pioneer new approaches. However, innovation can take many forms. It does not require inventing something wholly new; it can simply involve applying an existing idea in a new way or to a new situation. Entrepreneurs need not be inventors. They simply need to be creative in applying what others have invented. Their innovations may appear in how they structure their core programs or in how they assemble the resources and fund their work. On the funding side, social entrepreneurs look for innovative ways to assure that their ventures will have access to resources as long as they are creating social value. This willingness to innovate is part of the modus operandi of entrepreneurs. It is not just a one-time burst of creativity. It is a continuous process of exploring, learning, and improving. Of course, with innovation comes uncertainty and risk of failure. Entrepreneurs tend to have a high tolerance for ambiguity and learn how to manage risks for themselves and others. They treat failure of a project as a learning experience, not a personal tragedy.

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