Starting a Journey in Social Entrepreneurship? Some Pointers to Consider

by | Dec 1, 2023 | Blog

Social entrepreneurs have become increasingly prominent and crucial to the sustainable construct of our societies and under-resourced communities. They play a catalytic role in driving inclusive and sustainable economic development across the continent. 

Various studies have described social entrepreneurs as being change agents that harness innovation for the welfare of the public and to bring about social change and equality. Social entrepreneurship is closely linked with social innovation because social entrepreneurs are always looking for new ways to boost social and political dimensions in the economy. 

According to a study on economic growth and value creation, innovation is a critical indicator that impacts sustainable economic growth for improving living standards. Consequently, innovation is a process that is most likely to accelerate sustainable economic growth and public welfare to improve living standards. 

The Role of Social Entrepreneurs in Societies

Our societies are becoming more and more vulnerable to threats and complex issues that require immediate disruption, accelerated delivery of solutions and innovative resources to support them. The urgency and magnitude of global issues such as climate change, inequality, and poverty demand rapid acceleration and attention.  

Social entrepreneurs are driven by the objective to make a positive societal change by solving and alleviating certain systematic problems in societies. Their social objectives and approach influence and contribute to the positive development of industries, systems, policies and decision making. 

Recently, social entrepreneurs in South Africa have begun to successfully develop incredible innovative solutions by leveraging on technology to make a difference in under-resourced communities. 

Successful Social Entrepreneurship Business Models 

South Africa needs more corporations who are committed to taking care of the planet and its people. Nonprofits and for-profit businesses can work together to form a hybrid business model, led by a new generation of social entrepreneurs. This is particularly important with businesses controlling much of the globe’s resources. 

Social entrepreneurs play a large role in transforming the world of business which largely prioritises profit over well-being. By putting social causes first, social enterprises can influence other businesses to explore the spirit of collaboration and strive to contribute to the greater good. Social entrepreneurs can use business to generate profit that will be used to solve some of the world’s most daunting social problems.

A few social entrepreneurship business models that have proven successful over the years include: 

  • Awareness and cause: Spreading information and core messages about the issue that’s being solved to reach the masses, mobilise people and get them involved.
  • Employing and empowering: This model can involve simply hiring people who have not had equal access to employment or taking things one step further and providing people with the necessary resources and skills to make and sell their own products. This creates self-sufficient, independent workers who may grow to become employers themselves. 
  • One-for-one: Pioneered by TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie, one-for-one is about donating one product to those in need for every product the business sells. 
  • Environmental change: Making a positive impact on the environment through the business venture. 

Innovation can take many forms, and any insightful idea can be channelled towards working to address global issues. 

If you have an idea for a social impact business that you are passionate about, here are a few clever hacks to get you started: 

1. Identify a social problem and the problem you want to solve. This can be a cause you are passionate about, a personal experience, or inspiration from other social entrepreneurs. 

2. Decide what unique aspect you are bringing to addressing the social problem at hand. 

3. Craft a business model that best suits your idea to ensure that it will be socially impactful and financially successful.

4. Hand-pick a team who share the same dedication to social issues as you do.

5. Reach out to strategic partnerships and funders. “For startups, Raviv Turner, co-founder and CEO of Guerillapps says that great partners are those that can put fledgling social enterprises in front of the consumer bases they have yet to develop, while also helping them meet their goals.”

Social entrepreneurship is a phenomenon that affects the economic growth of the country and plays a crucial role in shifting the priorities of the world of business and our society. This makes it even more important to support its growing presence to ensure the best chances of success in aspiring social entrepreneurs. When social entrepreneurs succeed, communities thrive. 

At Innovation Edge, we support entrepreneurs and innovators with ideas to solve early childhood challenges in South Africa. Have an idea? Get in touch with our investment team at [email protected].

Author: Lerato Kau – Communications Analyst at Innovation Edge