What is Social Entrepreneurship?

by | Aug 17, 2017 | Early Career

Kayleigh is a college junior and marketing intern at Momentum.

Defining social entrepreneurship

Over the last thirty years or so, the field of social entrepreneurship has grown rapidly. Why? Stanford Social Innovation Review explains it this way:

“On the most basic level, there’s something inherently interesting and appealing about entrepreneurs and the stories of why and how they do what they do…  These extraordinary people come up with brilliant ideas and against all the odds succeed at creating new products and services that dramatically improve people’s lives.”

However, the definition of social entrepreneurship is often unclear.

The difference between a social entrepreneur and a business entrepreneur is not a lack of profit. Business sustainability is impossible without profit. But, the social entrepreneur may be less likely to keep substantial financial profit. As SSIR said, “Instead, the social entrepreneur aims for value in the form of large-scale, transformational benefit that accrues either to a significant segment of society or to society at large.”

Truly, a social entrepreneur is just a catalyst for societal change.

My major

As the idea of social entrepreneurship has increased in popularity, the concept is beginning to be introduced in the university setting. In fact, I am studying Economics with a concentration in Social Entrepreneurship and Non-Profit Management at Samford University.

Personally, I want to learn how to utilize assets to forge stability in an unjust sector of society- whatever that may be.

Female social entrepreneurs

In order to make a difference, social entrepreneurs must inhibit creativity, courage, and an ability to take direct action. Here’s a few of the women in the realm of social entrepreneurship that I am inspired by:

via LinkedIn

Elizabeth Dearborn Davis

Elizabeth is the co-founder & CEO of the Akilah Institute for Women, which is the only women’s college in Rwanda. Elizabeth moved to Rwanda upon college graduation, and founded Akilah when she was 24. Launched in 2010, Akilah offers accredited diplomas in Entrepreneurship, Information Systems, and Hospitality Management. 90% of Akilah graduates launch their careers within 6 months of graduation and earn 12x the national median income.

via LinkedIn

Veronika Scott

Veronika is the founder & CEO of the Empowerment Plan in Detroit. The Empowerment Plan is a humanitarian project based in the city of Detroit. The plan centers around a coat that is self heated, waterproof, and transforms into a sleeping bag at night. But, the organization also employs homeless women to produce coats for people living on the streets. The coats are given away free of cost, and the employed women grow professionally in order to break out of the cycle of poverty.

via Pipeline Angels


Natalia Oberti Noguera

Natalia is the founder & CEO of Pipeline Angels, which is a network of women investors that’s changing the face of angel investing and creating capital for women social entrepreneurs. Pipeline Angels host boot camps across the U.S. for new investors and a pitch summit for start-ups looking for funding. Since its launch in 2011, 200+ women have graduated from Pipeline Angels investing boot camp and have invested over US$4M in 40+ companies.

Opportunity awaits

The world of social entrepreneurship covers a wide variety of passions, pursuits, and profits. Truly, there is opportunity for all to make a difference through their individual sector of work, even without the label “social entrepreneur.”

Read more about the topic here. 

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