What is Social Entrepreneurship?
“Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.”
Bill Drayton, Founder and CEO of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public
A social entrepreneur is somebody who applies practical and sustainable solutions to economic and social problems, with an emphasis on helping people who are poor or disadvantaged. They use their enterprises to find unique and innovative approaches creating social change.
Social entrepreneurship is a big part of the School Enterprise Challenge, especially now since our new partner is Ashoka, the worlds leading investor in social entrepreneurs! We don’t just want our schools to make a profit; we’d also like them to use their enterprise to help their communities!
Social Entrepreneurship and the School Enterprise Challenge!
Our ‘People’ Prize is based on the principle of social entrepreneurship – we award $2500 to the school whose business meets the following criteria…
- Solving a social problem: Does your business solve a social problem in your community. Is there a product people need? Or a service people require?
- Having a positive impact on the local community: Do you employ local people or buy supplies from other local traders? Id your product affordable?
- Using your profits to help your community: Do you donate a percentage of your profits to a local cause or charity, or use profits to help underprivileged students in your school.
To see a real example of social enterprise you only need to look at last year’s ‘People’ Prize Winner, Vidyadhiraja High School in Mumbai.
Social Entrepreneurship in action!
‘People’ Prize Winners – Vidjadhiraja High School
Students at Vidyadhiraja ran their successful ‘Innoscent’ business, selling hand-rolled ‘agarbetti’ incense sticks, which are very popular for medicinal, religious and decorative purposes.
But Vidyadhiraja didn’t just run their enterprise with the aim to make a profit – they also made great efforts to help their community through social entrepreneurship!
First of all, Vidyadhiraja sold their products at a price their community could afford, which was a big help considering how widely incense sticks are used. They also made sure their product was environmentally friendly and biodegradable so it would have no negative impact on their environment.
And it didn’t end there – students chose to act as entrepreneurial ambassadors, giving workshops to underprivileged women to teach them how to produce incense sticks themselves.
They also used profits from their business to purchase an incense stick manufacturing machine that was donated to a community welfare centre. Alongside more training, this machine will be used to empower even more people through vocational training and help them earn a much-needed income!
Vidyadhiraja really deserve the ‘People’ prize for their efforts – they have shown that even a small business can make a big impact on social problems in their community!
This should give you a good idea of how social entrepreneurship fits within the School Enterprise Challenge. So, when you start your business, don’t forget to think about the ‘People’ Prize criteira – what problems does your community have and how might your enterprise help solve them?
Good luck, we know that you’ll all make excellent social entrepreneurs!