This article is written by Munira Hussein, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.
Social entrepreneurship(SE) aims at providing solutions to various challenges that people across the world face. Unlike traditional entrepreneurship (TE), it is often times not profit oriented. Social entrepreneurs seek to help create a world they would want to live in.
Niels van den Linden, co-founder at Patica, Joshua Burke of the US Commercial Service and Ayse Sabuncu of Impact Hub are social entrepreneurs involved in various projects that are trying to create a sustainable change in various parts of the world. In their discussion at the Startup Istanbul forum, they shared insights on why they chose to be social entrepreneurs.
We live in an era where more people are searching for their purpose and asking more of themselves in terms of what they can do for other people. Employed people with lucrative incomes often feel like they need to give their life meaning by giving back to the society and hence get into social entrepreneurship or volunteerism.
One can use whatever field they are in to come up with an impactful idea. Niels uses technology to motivate people and create value. He also runs a project where they try and partner with online educational programs such as Coursera to offer education to people in the refugee camps since building of schools is sometimes impossible and costly. Joshua works with the Syrian refugees in Turkey. He partnered with a weaving company that helps them make handwoven mats which they can sell.
The challenge in Joshua’s case is that even though he is a social entrepreneur, there is the money making aspect, which makes it difficult for him to seek grants and funding. This is one other way SE is different from TE.
Ayse’s intends to bring together individuals, companies and organizations that seek to impact mindset, provide them with space and a sense of community. Impact Hub therefore, is a pool of content and community where members can share ideas and learn skills from each other for the greater good of the communities they are trying to positively impact.
Sometimes, even companies practice the art of giving back by sponsoring children or creating employment but most social enterprises are nonprofit and have the sole intention of benefitting certain marginalized community by for example, empowering people through creation of employment opportunities, alleviating various societal problems such as poverty, health, war and education among others, depending on the need of the society.
Donations are encouraged but SEs are looking at sustainable impact and innovation that the people can use to continuously generate income and pass on to the younger generations for the solution to be long term.
There is no one right model that can be used. Companies can make profit and still have an immense impact on the community. It depends on the product or service and the need of the particular community that you are trying to impact.
In what ways are you creating positive impact?