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Social Entrepreneurship – An Answer to Global Problems

By Ayush Dev Pant

Every business era is dominated by a certain business trend. The trends are set by the response of the market towards various product and service. A trend taking huge leaps in the business domain is Social Entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship allows you to make money while transforming the world into a better place. Sounds today, a lot of people are attracted by the spectrum of social entrepreneurship. The idea of bringing positive changes in the communities and earning yourself a living is very attractive for the younger members of the corporate world. Social entrepreneurship is not a new concept as history shows it has been practiced since the 18th century. Vinoba Bhave, the founder of India’s Land Gift Movement, Robert Owen, the founder of cooperative movement and Florence Nightingale, founder of first nursing school and developer of modern nursing practices might be included in this category.  If they were operating today, we would be calling those initiatives ‘social entrepreneurship’.

Today, a lot of social entrepreneurs are operating in the market with their own venture to achieve social impact by mitigating various issues. In 1980, Drayton established the non-profit organization known as Ashoka. This organization identifies, enlists, and supports major social entrepreneurs in order to create a worldwide team of “changemakers” who can help instill empathy in everyone, lead the young in a socially conscious direction, and break barriers in society. In 1983,  Mohammud Yunus founded the Grameen Bank with the motive of small loan supply for people living in and below the poverty line to support their need of self-sustainability. The bank assisted a lot of people to create different income avenues. Jacqueline Novogratz founded Acumen in 2001 as a social investment company. The company provides long-term capital to help fund businesses who have a focus on providing solutions to social issues. By the year 2014, it had already funded hundreds of projects with over $110 million.

According to Global Graduate Management Education Segmentation Study, 12% of prospective students globally are now considered Impactful Innovators; entrepreneurs motivated by social impact rather than financial gain. There are diverse set of issues in every country of the globe. Globalization has enhanced cross-cultural harmony which has led to enrichment of support among different nationalities. Companies prioritizing profit over people and planet are not going to survive with the same mentality because people today are notably knowledgeable than before. Everyone knows what’s happening around the world and technology brings all of them on the same page. The exclusive generation demands social impact as we can see a lot of people getting involved to fight against the injustice prevailing towards people and the planet.

The business arena is not going to be the same when social entrepreneurship takes over the global business trend. The apparel industry is going through a major shift towards sustainability. Nicole Rycroft, founder of Canopy is bringing the shift in the apparel industry after his sustainable influence in the publishing industry. Rycroft recently launched Canopy Style to engage over 100 clothing brands in championing conservation and seeking out new and sustainable ways to source materials.  According to a 2018 report released by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the apparel industry produces 20 percent of global water waste and 10 percent of global carbon emissions, while 85 percent of textiles — 21 billion tons — are sent to landfills each year.

Rishi Kesh Tiwari an Ashoka Foundation fellow, founded the Parbat Community Development Society (PCDS) in 1994 in Nepal in order to enhance the capabilities of agricultural social entrepreneurs of the rural areas of the country. His foundation is helping bridge the gap between poverty and income opportunities through sustainable farming techniques. In Nigeria, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, more than 35 million tons of fruits and veggies are produced each year. Yet, according to startup ColdHubs, 45% of this food spoils due to inadequate storage methods. The company develops rooms with solar panels and high power batteries to refrigerate and extend the shelf life of perishable foods. The characteristics of the members of the millennial and the Generation Z complement the idea of social responsibility almost perfectly. The newer generation is entering the market rapidly and social entrepreneurship is augmenting accordingly.

Making a difference is not easy, neither is building a company. Doing both together is definitely not going to be elementary. But they say nothing worth having comes easy. A peaceful world is worth having and it will not be a cakewalk but social entrepreneurship might just be the movement  of a much needed sustainable revolution.

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