Social Entrepreneurship | David Bornstein

Summary of: Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know(r)
By: David Bornstein

Introduction

Venture into the world of social entrepreneurship, where countless passionate individuals harness the power of entrepreneurial business techniques to address global challenges such as hunger, inequality, and environmental destruction. In ‘Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know(r)’, by David Bornstein, learn about the unstoppable force of social enterprises, their common characteristics, and the crucial role they play in strengthening democracy and providing hope to disadvantaged communities. Get inspired by success stories like the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), and explore the challenges and potential solutions encountered by social entrepreneurs worldwide in their pursuit for a better future.

The Power of Small Groups

The September 11 attacks proved how a small group could cause massive destruction. However, small groups can also bring immense positive change. Citizen sectors worldwide have been working towards solving complex problems, including disease, poverty, hunger, and political corruption. These groups use innovative ideas and tools to empower individuals in need. Instead of just voicing outrage, there is a focus on problem-solving. These individuals are known as social entrepreneurs, and they found and operate social enterprises, using entrepreneurial tactics to tackle pressing social issues. Anyone can be a social entrepreneur, no matter their background.

The Power of Social Entrepreneurship

For centuries, people have suffered from poverty, violence, segregation, and discrimination. However, since the 1970s, a significant improvement has been observed in the lives of many minority groups worldwide, coinciding with the emergence of millions of new organizations. Social activists, once dissatisfied with waiting for governments or corporations, are building platforms that unleash human potential and effectively work to eradicate poverty, protect human rights, reduce environmental degradation, and fight for civil rights for minorities.

The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) is an example of an effective social entrepreneurial organization that focuses strictly on results. Founded by Fazle H. Abed, a former Shell Oil executive, BRAC is involved in rural education, health care, microfinance, social, and economic development. It operates competitively, hires locals based on merits, and refuses to bow to donors’ development desires. BRAC has been extremely successful in winning grants, low-cost loans, and loan guarantees, and has been able to mitigate poverty on a massive scale.

Social entrepreneurs have an essential role in solving the world’s problems. Today’s changemakers share one common feature: They are building platforms that unleash human potential.

The Traits of Social Entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurs need tenacity, determination and continuous funding to turn their ideas into reality. They are often faced with apathy and disbelief as well as opposition from the very people they aim to help. However, their independence and passion keep urging them to push forward. They are not afraid of challenges, but they must have a long-term perspective to ensure their projects are sustainable. Despite similarities with business entrepreneurs, their goal isn’t limited to profit-making. In the case of ShoreBank, a profit-making business, they focus primarily on accomplishing good through their lending.

Social entrepreneurship aims at solving widespread public issues, yet the challenge lies in taking the pieces of knowledge and applying them on a worldwide scale. Social entrepreneurs are biased toward action and tend to be very independent; they are not risk-averse and are passionate about their ideas. They are not ideological either. However, social entrepreneurs face multiple challenges, such as funding and positive publicity, and are often opposed by people with vested interests. Therefore, they must be tenacious, determined, and have long-term goals. In conclusion, social entrepreneurship has the potential to create a positive impact on society, but it requires the necessary qualities and a strong sense of vision from those who practice it.

Social Entrepreneurship: A Bottom-Up Approach

Social entrepreneurship organizations focus on helping people become self-sufficient and inspiring others to do the same, working from the bottom up rather than a top-down government approach. They encourage purposeful projects through observation and experimentation, hoping for institutionalization and independent adoption of similar practices. While similar to activism, social entrepreneurship differs in that entrepreneurs are comfortable working within the seats of power to make change. Despite difficulties, social entrepreneurship remains a powerful tool for democracy, promoting citizen power and inspiring significant change across the globe.

Exercising Civic Duty

In his book, Self-Renewal, John Gardner emphasizes the importance of an active and engaged citizenry. He suggests that voting, paying taxes, and obeying the law are minimal civic duties and proposes that every citizen should engage in public service for a year or two. According to Gardner, society is not maintained with minimal effort; it is continuously re-created by its members, and it is their responsibility to contribute to its betterment. While some may find this idea burdensome, Gardner believes it has the potential to summon others to greatness.

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