A: Social entrepreneurship "combines the passion of a social mission with an image of business-like discipline, innovation, and determination" (from J. Gregory Dees paper, The Meaning of "Social Entrepreneurship"). Social entrepreneurs are interested in developing new ways to tackle the worlds problems, impact social change and progress. The Skoll Foundation adds, "social entrepreneurs pioneer innovative and systemic approaches for meeting the needs of the marginalized, the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised - populations that lack the financial means or political clout to achieve lasting benefit on their own." While social entrepreneurship may be a newer addition to our vocabulary, it is not a new concept or endeavor. Read more background on social entrepreneurship.
Perhaps one of the reasons why this is a frequently asked question at the Foundation Center, and within the sector in general, is because we have not yet reached a sector-wide agreement on how we define social entrepreneurship. For a deeper discussion on this topic, review "Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for a Definition" [PDF] by Roger L. Martin and Sally Osberg published in the Standford Social Innovation Review (Spring 2007).
More resources on Social Entrepreneurship:
- Social Edge: a program of the Skoll Foundation, this cooperative site is by social entrepreneurs, for social entrepreneurs.
- Social Enterprise Alliance has developed a lexicon for social entrepreneurship.
- Social Venture Network provides information and convenes conferences for charities and businesses interested in operation in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable way.
Social entrepreneurship books available in our library:
- How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, by David Bornstein, 2004.
- Understanding the Social Economy and the Third Sector, by Simon Bridge and Brendan Murtagh, 2009.
- Social Entrepreneurship: A Modern Approach to Social Value Creation, by Arthur C. Brooks, 2008.
- Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets that Change the World, by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan, 2008.
- The World We Want: New Dimensions in Philanthropy and Social Change, by Peter H. Karoff and Janet Maddox, 2007.
- Mission, Inc.: The Practitioners Guide to Social Enterprise, by Keven Lynch and Julius Walls, Jr., 2008.
Do you still have questions? Ask us.