While technological innovations are widely promoted, social innovations are still largely overlooked. The societal development can not always keep up with the rapid technological advancement and challenges of a modern dynamic environment.
The Diplomatic Council (DC) has therefore launched the DC Global Social Entrepreneurship Forum. It will focus on the possible impact of social innovation on the economy and society.
The objective of the forum is to promote Social Entrepreneurship as a tool for social change in politics, business, civil society, and within the United Nations. The Diplomatic Council will develop guidelines for international good impact, efficiency analyses, publications, and work toward networking with stakeholders on a global scale to support Social Enterprises to become even more successful.
Social impact through innovation and entrepreneurship
Technological change has always been accompanied by a change of society. While it is true that the challenges we are facing today have become more exponential and global, so have our means and the ability to solve these problems.
We can communicate globally, learn form the best practices and scale social innovations internationally. In short, all the possibilities of digitalisation, automation and technological advancement can be used for the benefit of good impact.
Social Entrepreneurship is a global movement that, in general, wants to solve social problems with entrepreneurial methods. What initially may sound like a contradiction has in fact a long tradition.
Henri Dunant can certainly be considered as an early Social Entrepreneur. In 1863 he founded what was later to be known as the International Committee of the Red Cross. A pioneer of modern Social Entrepreneurship is the economist Muhammad Yunus. In 1983 he founded the Grameen Bank, a development bank and microfinance organization, that provides microcredits to small-scale entrepreneurs without collateral. In 2006 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his model.
This shows Social Entrepreneurship is not limited to what is commonly understood as the social sector. Rather, it is a matter of focusing on innovation and social impact.
CSR and other activities of purely profitable companies distinguish from Social Entrepreneurship in the way that good impact is not their primary goal, while Social Enterprises are solely founded for this purpose. Traditional non-profit and charity organizations do not necessarily differ in the objective, but in the method. Social Enterprises have set themselves the goal of meeting the increasingly complex challenges of our society with creativity and entrepreneurship. Although Social Entrepreneurship is still a niche phenomenon that is searching for its place in politics and business, Social Enterprises have developed a dynamic global network that creates successful and innovative social business models.
What is Social Entrepreneurship?
Social Entrepreneurship can be described as the development of solutions to societal challenges in an entrepreneurial manner. The primary purpose is a positive social and/or ecological impact as well as the economic sustainability.
Social Entrepreneurship can play an important role in order to develop a sustainable market economy and guarantee equitable distribution of wealth. Economic growth bringing prosperity to mankind is one of the best guarantors for a peaceful development. Thus, the classic economy, society, state, and welfare associations can benefit from Social Entrepreneurship
The Diplomatic Council uses the term ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ to describe the following types of business:
- Those where the social impact is targeted through the operational activity, often in the form of a high level of social innovation.
- Those where profits are mainly reinvested with a view to achieving its social impact.
- Those where the method of organisation or ownership system reflects the enterprise’s mission, using democratic or participatory principles or focusing on social justice.
While different definitions for Social Entrepreneurship exist, they all share the idea of achieving social and/or ecological impact for the common good. For the Diplomatic Council, Social Entrepreneurship captures a unique approach to economic and social problems, which applies practical, innovative, and sustainable solutions to benefit society in general, whether the organisations are non-profit or for-profit entities.