Social entrepreneurs are among a nation's most innovative thinkers. They are entrepreneurs who develop creative solutions to help solve the problems that society faces. Social entrepreneurs are not business people in the more traditional sense of the term. Instead, they are ideologues who stick to their vision and are concerned primarily with the transformation of society and the elimination of its problems. Social entrepreneurs are essentially problem solvers who help to eliminate or alleviate the predicaments that societies face.
The Transformation Benefits of Social Entrepreneurship
One of the more promising advantages of being a social entrepreneur is the legacy you can leave behind. The definition of social entrepreneurship can really encompass many different types of innovations. Any innovation that transforms or changes society in a profound way may be said to be a social innovation.
Not all social innovations necessarily have a humanitarian purpose behind them. American society was transformed in the 1920s by Henry Ford's perfection of the assembly line to create automobiles. This made automobiles accessible and affordable to the American family and transformed the tourism, labor and related industries by making the American public more mobile.
Going hand-in-hand with leaving behind a legacy is the level of impact a social entrepreneur can have on other peoples' lives by finding and solving problems. For instance, Scott Harrison, founder of "charity: water," a nonprofit organization created to provide quality drinking water to millions of people, has been able to transform the lives of countless people by helping to solve one of the most basic health needs that all people have – the need for clean, drinkable water.
Standing at the Cutting Edge
One advantage of working as a social entrepreneur is that you can be on the cutting edge of the industry in which you decide to work and offer solutions. Social entrepreneurs use their creativity to establish their niche in the business world and in society in general. The innovation they bring to their industries generally carries with it a tremendous amount of respect and recognition from the rest of business community and from society as a whole.
The social revolution started by Apple's Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak changed the face of modern technology, especially in the way it affected the use of personal computers and communication devices. In the retail world, Sam Walton's innovations changed the face of retail shopping.
Entrepreneurs Bring Economic Change
As innovators, social entrepreneurs create entire industries where none existed before. In doing so, they may create hundreds or even thousands of jobs and establish industries in cities where industry may have been nonexistent.
For example, PATH, a Seattle-based nonprofit health innovation organization has developed new technologies to be used to promote greater levels of public health in communities throughout the world. This has led to jobs for health care professionals in many under-served communities where no health care industry even existed. In ways like this, the social entrepreneur often has an impact that grows far beyond the immediate impact of solving a problem.
Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.