Over the past few weeks I have been having some great conversations about social entrepreneurship with Zoltan Acs, Prof. at GMU. The area is seeing a lot of activity and research inquiry. The question of what social entrepreneurship is, is far from being answered. (Acs answer is different from the one below)
Below is an excerpt from Tina Seelig’s CreativityRulz Blog. Seelig is the executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program at Stanford University School of Engineering (a legendary institution in campus entrepreneurship).
So, what differentiates a social entrepreneur from a plain old vanilla entrepreneur? I must stay that it isn’t clear to me…. To loosely quote Carl Schramm, president of the Kauffman Foundation, when he spoke at Stanford last year, “all entrepreneurship is ‘social’ because at a minimum it generates jobs and stimulates the economy.” Given that as a baseline, companies can be socially responsible in an endless number of ways. If a company has family friendly policies, it is socially responsible. If a company recycles used materials and installs solar panels on the roof, it is socially responsible. If a company makes medical products that save lives, it socially responsible. If a company makes energy efficient cars, it is socially responsible. A company certainly does not have to be a not-for-profit to be socially responsible.
I would argue that people use the word “social” entrepreneurship because they don’t always know what entrepreneurship is… The way we teach it, entrepreneurship is about identifying problems and solving them by leveraging scarce resources. It means creating value, where value can be measured in a wide range of ways. It is extremely limiting is you define value only as making lots of money.