We need more Social Entrepreneurs now – more than ever
Brexit has left us with an encompassing sense of uncertainty. Britain’s future and that of our global partners is being continuously re-evaluated and re-planned – and everyone seemingly wants a shot at having a say. The economic implications of a Brexit vote are extensive and remain largely unpredictable, while the opportunities now available to entrepreneurs need to be questioned.
The market is currently undergoing, potentially, the biggest shift in its very nature, and the day to day lives of people in the UK and around the world are being brought in to the discussion to a greater extent than before June 23rd. The number of examples of hate crime and of racism and Islamophobia recorded in recent weeks is on an upwards trend; arguably, a response to a vote in rejection of co-operation and unity within established organisation.
Various voices have raised concerns as to the removal of EU funding in art projects or charity organisations; or rather, concerns as to the implications that Brexit may have on social enterprises. Different areas of the UK have asked for confirmation that their reliance upon extra funding will be secured in a Brexit settlement. More broadly speaking, our global community continue to face some of the greatest challenges we have ever faced as a human population. No matter how you feel about Brexit, it is more important now than ever before to re-double our efforts to find creative, innovative and enterprising responses to these issues.
Social entrepreneurship is a field of continued recent development and is one should prove exciting for up-coming young entrepreneurs with global outlook. Despite remaining relatively contentious in its willingness to be defined, the premise of a social entrepreneur is the intention to tackle social issues for the benefit of resolution, change and ultimately, profit.
Businesses which follow a socially-orientated model tend to not seek grants from foundations or other donors to fund their endeavour. Rather, their growth is financed by more traditional models of entrepreneurship.
Social media platforms are constantly swamped by inspiring tales of start-ups that intend to revamp the way we do business. Take TOMS – potentially one of the most well-known socially conscious brands – for every product sold, the company donates product or support to those in need. It is a concept that is underpinned by a belief that one organisation or individual should not gain without sharing the growth with others. By implementing a model of charity and donation to the degree of success that the company has seen TOMS has validated and encouraged similar endeavours.
Even so, social entrepreneurship also exists on a much broader, less commercial scale. Countless initiatives have been set up to provide access to resources, knowledge and ability. For example, organisations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or the Clinton Foundation are motivated by principles of afforded opportunity to help those in need. Profit from business or investment is reinvested in projects, businesses and people – with huge success and impact. This route into social entrepreneurship takes a lot longer and often means that you don’t focus on the issue you are trying to fix for a long time. Bill Gates spent decades working on Microsoft before setting up his philanthropic foundation with his wife and Warren Buffet. But now it’s said to be the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world. So it’s a tough one.
Or – if that’s not up your street, check out projects kickstarted by one or two entrepreneurs – like ArtLifting. Based in Boston, c0-founding siblings Liz and Spencer Powers set up the ambitious organisation that helps disabled or homeless people celebrate and sell their artwork. Their slogan ‘Buy Art, Change a Life’ speaks for itself – but their work is making a real difference both for vulnerable artists and the industry itself.
By 2013 the company had sold six-figures worth of art and helped five artists find housing. Soon after $1.3 million worth of investment came along, and it’s easy to understand why. Artists get 55 percent of their own sales, the company gets 44 percent, and 1 percent funds supplies to art groups nationwide – it’s a great model and a great example of how social entrepreneurs can balance social good and the need for profit.
The economic outlook for the next 5/10/100 years is pretty uncertain – full of opportunity, yes – but there are definitely a few more things to worry about now.
And when you add in the massive implications that Brexit will have on people all over the world, it has never been more important for entrepreneurs to start businesses that intend to change it– no matter how big or small.
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