By Natasha Chaiyarat
When talking about entrepreneurship, most people immediately think about for-profit, small business entrepreneurship. Since the 1970’s, small businesses have provided 55% of all jobs, according to the U.S. Small Business Association. Social entrepreneurship also plays a vital role in our community, yet surprisingly, many are not aware of what it is.
Social entrepreneurship is defined as the use of techniques by entrepreneurs to develop, fund, and implement social, cultural or environmental innovation. According to Harvard Business Review, social enterprise in the U.S is a fast-growing, but fragmented, movement. Social entrepreneurship is more common than one may think. Starting a business that fits the definition of social entrepreneurship involves awareness of current issues in society.
Brenda Barber started “Sweet Beginnings” to address the issue of mass incarceration. “Sweet Beginnings” addresses the social stigma associated with having a criminal record through a market-driven financial model. Barber has employed 416 people who have criminal records. She believes social entrepreneurship is important because “it’s a means to creatively address a social issue or unmet need via a market driven, financial model that results hopefully in long-term sustainability.”
Benjamin Braverman, a current student at Devry, took notice of his friends who need medication in order to concentrate, and he decided to take action through social entrepreneurship. His product, which he says is “still in its early stages, would be an alternative for medicine.” Braverman is creating glasses that help students focus. In today’s society, social entrepreneurship is prevalent regardless of whether or not we notice it.
From starting a dog walking business to helping out busy neighbors or designing tools that beginner gardeners can use while helping the environment, social entrepreneurship paves the way for societies to solve environmental, cultural, and social issues