Social entrepreneurship found its way being discussed in the blogosphere this week, largely via this interview between the widely-read blogger Guy Kawasaki (who’s always worth a read on general start-up stuff) and David Bornstein, author of How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas. Although somewhat wedded to Ashoka / the star hero model, the book is an insightful and good read, and the interview is also well worth five minutes of your time.
For me, Bornstein makes a lot of sense on the core issues:
– social entrepreneurs differ utimately because of their primary motivation (aka the social mission)
– metrics are more difficult in the social sphere, but reasoned, reliable judgements of organisations are possible based on a range of measurements (hard and soft) and the people involved
– that the movement is as much about wellbeing / change through organisations as in the activity/services they deliver
– there is increasing blurring and movement between sectors (I like his phrase here of people being increasingly "sector agnostic: they are seeking impact and looking for the best tools to do the job")
– everyone can get involved: to take action; they just need to find their place in the scheme of things
– recruiting talented people and access to finance are primary, oft-recounted blockages
– social entrepreneurs, like entrepreneurs, come in all shapes and sizes…and so do their organisations
– social entrepreneurs are not heroic individuals, doing it all alone; as Bornstein puts it very well: "Entrepreneurs are successful only to the degree that they can bring
together other people with different talents and abilities who can, as
a team, build things they could never do apart. Entrepreneurs are hubs
or magnets: organizing forces. It takes many hands working together to
produce any significant change."
He’s also particularly eloquent on the potential wider impact of ‘the movement’, which resonates with our long tail stuff:
"There are many levels at which social entrepreneurship can and should
be encouraged. At its essence, the goal is to help build a society in
which many, many people have the confidence, skill and desire to solve
problems they see around them. The most important qualities in social
entrepreneurship are empathy, the ability to collaborate well with
others and the stubborn belief that it’s possible to make a
difference—which motivates and stimulates people to act."
Amen to that.