Social Entrepreneurship: When Entrepreneurship Meets Social Activism


Entrepreneur and Social Activist: these are two terms that are being used often lately given the recent revolutions, especially where social media played a keen role, and the push for change in the region.

However there is a new term that is being heavily coined: “Social Entrepreneurship.” Social entrepreneurship is a new phenomenon that comes into being when an entrepreneur meets a social activist.

People often tend to associate the term with social activists where in reality there is a huge difference between these two terms.

When a person realizes his/her interest in a cause, maybe advocating for it without taking it a step further, growing passion for it, or start an initiative to address it, one will be called an activist. But an activist might only become a social entrepreneur if he or she further develops his or her activism into a sustainable solution that will allow them to address the issues at hand in a scalable and impactful manner. Unlike activists, social entrepreneurs build organizations and their work is not limited by a time frame i.e. the end of a campaign, etc. They keep digging deeper and branching out to be more inclusive. Activists who turn into social entrepreneurs are the ones who address a social cause with a different approach, one that includes mobilizing resources, building organizations and applying business skills to social problems.

Social entrepreneurs are unique from their traditional counterparts because their goal is not just to make a profit, but also to address a pressing social issue through innovative, sustainable approaches and solutions.

Not all activists, or those that believe passionately in a cause, are social entrepreneurs. Just as they are unique from traditional entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs are different from traditional activists. Instead of focusing on advocacy or awareness, social entrepreneurs provide sustainable solutions to real issues.

Defining social entrepreneurship in the context of both entrepreneurship and social activists highlights social entrepreneurs as at the intersection of creative energy and passion for a cause. Social entrepreneurs are those that learn from the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world as well as the Susan B. Anthonys and Wael Ghonims, providing creative and competitive solutions to critical social concerns. “Being an entrepreneur should be about more than just money. Business leaders have a responsibility to try to make a difference in the world,” says Halfcode chief executive Richard Black.

One of the most exciting aspects of social entrepreneurship is the space it has created for addressing serious issues in countries where the government may not have the capacity or ability to do so. But even in countries that do have strong political and economic institutions, with financial crises and economic downturn facing many donors and governments, traditional approaches to charity and social work are drying up. By using a private sector approach and innovative market-based solutions, social entrepreneurship provides new ways of doing things whether at for-profit companies, nonprofits and NGOs, or even by using resources more effectively from government.

While navigating the world between social activist and entrepreneur, or profit and non-profit, can be difficult — especially in terms of finding funding — social entrepreneurs have only skimmed the surface in the potential value that their innovative energy and passion for making the world a better place can add to society.