Social entrepreneurship spin?

Today, thousands of people around the world base their work, their aspirations or their studies around Social Entrepreneurship. It is a term that has strengthened and has gained popularity, to describe positively a person or business (the entrepreneur) who aspires to address a social issue, in a way that is financially sustainable.

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Certainly it is an attractive term that from the hand of an original idea may generate a great success in the market. Proof of this, is the use given to the term in the digital community, while not representing the majority of the world’s population, is a good indicator of the business world and of young idealists that day by day try to do something “out of the box”.

For example, a search on Google, one of the most popular search engines, yields 89.9 million results that contain the term social entrepreneurship. In the news section, the same search engine throws as a result 29,200 notes and articles published in media around the world. Of course, Wikipedia, the largest collaborative platform also has an entry that defines and elaborates a bit on its history and practices.

As for social networks, on Twitter more than a hundred people and organizations are defined as @SocialEnrepreneurs and online conversations around the topic are constant. Facebook is also a major source of business groups defined under this term.

Social Media

The network is then flooded with the topic of Social Entrepreneurship. In a first moment, it is possible to think of this as a positive sign, because it means more people are willing to create business models that include innovation and society in its center. Likewise, the conversation generated between people enriches the discourse in this area and contributes to the achievement of best practices.

However, as happened in other areas of sustainable development, there is a fine line between true social action by an entrepreneur, and people or businesses that use the term to exalt and promote themselves within the market. Something like the “greenwashing”.

A real and true social entrepreneur is someone who has the ultimate goal to generate systemic change in society, and does so through the creation of an innovative idea that leads to a business model, which is characterized by being replicable and scalable. It is this change in focus and project characteristics that separate truly #SocialEntrpreneurs from the rest.

It is therefore misleading and dishonest to some extent, to use the term simply for trend or with the intention to obtain a competitive advantage because in some way or another it damages the terminology and contrary to the first impression, impoverish the discourse and action.

Moreover, and as with the greenwashing, based on the cover with green or ecological actions or bluewashing, which refers to dressing up with actions related to the United Nations, conversion of social entrepreneurship to a term that masks actions, is a barrier to the achievement of sustainable development.

Therefore, it is necessary not to abuse the term by understanding it, being honest and using it to categorize people that according to Bill Drayton, CEO and founder of Ashoka, are defined as “[persons that] are not content just to give a fish, or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”

 


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