There are numerous definitions of what exactly social entrepreneurship is. However, trying to avoid theoretical discussion and focusing more on the practical meaning of social entrepreneurship, we will understand social entrepreneurship as impactful, but also profit-oriented, innovative entrepreneurship which assumes a clear understanding of the target group.
- “Social entrepreneurship in modern society offers an altruistic form of entrepreneurship that focuses on the benefits that society may reap” – Wee-Liang, Williams, John, and Tan, Teck-Meng (2005)
- “Social entrepreneurs are one species in the genus entrepreneur. They are entrepreneurs with a social mission.” – J. Gregory Dees (2001)
- “Social entrepreneurship describes innovative, entrepreneurial action aimed at solving societal problems. This can be implemented in a new start-up or as a part of existing organizations (social intrapreneurship).” – University of Vienna, Social Entrepreneurship Department
We understand social entrepreneurship ecosystem as a set of connections and interdependences between the parties working on social entrepreneurship. It can be described as a social entrepreneurship cloud or a support system.
- Social businesses;
- Nonprofits working on social entrepreneurship education;
- Local and national stakeholders;
- Laws and regulations;
Social business was defined by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, who is also a chairman of the Yunus Center – an entity helping to forge lasting, productive relationships among all social business institutions around the world.
Social business is perceived as a non-loss, non- dividend company created to address a social purpose. That means that, as a charity, the goal of a social business is to solve a social problem. But because it‘s a business, it‘s also financially sustainable, ensuring independence, security, and the ability/chance to exclusively focus on creating lasting impact. Instead of donors, a social business has investors. Instead of fundraising, a social business generates a profit—and then reinvests that profit in the company‘s innovation and growth in order to increase its social impact.
According to Social Enterprise Society of Kenya, to be considered as a social enterprise your business should:
1. Have a clear social or environmental agenda included in your governing documents;
2. Re-invest a large chunk of your profits back into the business for sustainability purposes;
3. Generate most of your income through trading activities;
4. Not be a government institution;
5. Be transparent and accountable.