Social Entrepreneurship: Marrying profit with purpose

by | Nov 16, 2018 | Blog

Earlier this week the South African Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, officially launched the South African leg of Global Entrepreneurship Week – an annual celebration of innovators and job creators who launch start-ups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. Yesterday, celebrations centered around youth and social entrepreneurship, that is, young entrepreneurs who are cleverly combining a social mission with business and successfully making a real impact.

What makes social entrepreneurship different?

Social entrepreneurship has a central social aim at the core. According to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) consultancy company Trialogue, intentionality is what sets social enterprises apart from CSR.  The core purpose of the business is social impact that is embedded deeply into the business model, rather than being “on the side”.

Within Africa, many social enterprises offer solutions to the multidimensional socio-economic challenges currently faced in the continent. All around Africa, social entrepreneurs are catalysts for innovative solutions created to address these challenges.

Take the organisation onebillion for example, they deliver literacy and numeracy apps to marginalised children. Their solution – which was piloted in Malawi – focuses on self-directed education. In other words, the child can teach him/herself how to read and write, learn basic numeracy skills, with minimal support from an adult. onebillion also leverages app-generated data to personalise content and complexity level to each child.

One of our investments, EarlyBird, provides socially inclusive, workplace-based educare services to businesses. Through their work, they are also able to support the non-profit arm of their organisation – the Blue Door Franchise programme, which works to deliver a similarly high-quality educare offering at a subsidised rate to children from low-income communities who may not have otherwise had access to such services.

Nceduluntu Educare in Khayelitsha, Cape Town – Earlybird’s first Blue Door site

In Nigeria, Achenyo Idachaba found a way to turn aquatic weed plants into woven wonders. Mitimeth produces hand-crafted accessories from the invasive water hyacinth plant that grows freely along the Niger Delta and provides product development training.

Ride 2 Empower runs bicycle tours through the township of Khayelitsha and also focuses on the development of micro-enterprises within the area.

“We offer tours to give people the opportunity to get to know the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in Khayelitsha. The aim is to take investors to places where social innovators work, meet and exchange ideas. We exist to support the township economy and promotion of the vibrant culture of entrepreneurship and enterprise growth” – Siyabonga Mbaba, Ride 2 Empower Founder