How to Be an Ethical Social Entrepreneur

The phrase “social entrepreneurship” is relatively new, referring to an organization that has been created to address social problems through profits. These organizations (or businesses) focus on adopting a mission that can create and sustain particular social values, or support the elimination of social inequalities. The investors of these organizations are typically philanthropists. The main objective created by a social entrepreneur is to create social change.

A social entrepreneur focuses on things like the environment, energy resources, fair business practices, community involvement, and sustainable products. According to The New Jersey Institute of Technology “Making a good ethical decision is as important as (sic) commercial success as mastering accounting decisions, finance, marketing, and management.”

Here are some ways to maintain your ethics while becoming a successful social entrepreneur:

Acknowledge the Roles of A Social Entrepreneur

The main measure of success for companies under this category does not come from profits. Success comes from inhabiting the roles of a social entrepreneur. As an organization, it falls on leaders to identify and recognize the social injustices they would like to fight against. By doing this, they can then identify business opportunities.

Social Entrepreneurs are responsible for becoming involved in problem solving. Typically, investors of companies and organizations like this do not just invest money and then back away from their projects. Instead they become emotionally and physically involved throughout the entire process. According to Ohio University “direct action requires direct engagement”. Social entrepreneurs must be persistent and original in the ways they chose to fight for their cause. Becoming involved means working at ground level with the affected communities to access what is needed and then taking action to fix or improve upon the social justice issue. Ethical social entrepreneurs distinguish their intent by their actions.

Establish a Cause To Stand Behind

The best way to be an ethical entrepreneur is to recognize unjust social issues that you will then focus on eliminating. To do so effectively, social entrepreneurs must have a significant amount of passion for the cause they chose to represent. Since the creators of such organizations are often working to fix and repair elements of social constructs its important that they envelope a passion for it. Without passion, people tend to lose motivation in their cause. The integrity of an entrepreneur is probably the most important ethical element of social work, and the most simplistic. Knowing your organization’s mission and standing behind it in every way can boost the credibility of a business.

Entrepreneurs stay results oriented. Since they often have significant capital of their own invested in the organization and the mission, they focus on the returns that are made. In most cases of social entrepreneurship success is often gauged by the success of the organization’s mission. They focus on aiming for results that are realistic and do not cost them heavily in ethical or monetary ways.

Establish a Measure of Success

Social entrepreneurs are seen as brilliant people who come up with incredible ideas and against all odds, succeed in creating new services and products that significantly improve the lives of people. They prioritize success by looking beyond profit as a measurement. They focus on the positive impact that their organization makes on society, the economy, or the overall social justice issues they chose to work for.

Since social entrepreneurial companies work on an entirely different legal structure than typical businesses and charities, they can be categorized as nonprofits, for profits, or hybrid companies. The goal of social entrepreneurs is not to generate profits for their founders, but to generate profit or attainable results for the cause they are working to improve. Most social entrepreneurs have created organizations that are a hybrid of a business and a charity. The generation of profit helps to fund solutions to chronic social problems. With more profit, they are able to change the established social norms.

Follow By Example

Even though the term “Social entrepreneurs” is a relatively new label, examples of these business models have been around for years. Social entrepreneurs are developing company models that blend traditional business with solutions that can address the long term needs of our environment and population. is a social entrepreneurship initiative that was started to help make a difference on five fronts.

They are focusing their social change on developing renewable energy resources that are cheaper and more environmentally friendly than coal. is working to bring electric vehicles to the commercial market. They are also working to prevent and predict emerging and apparent risks like climate change and the spread of infectious diseases.

They focus to empower and improve available public services. And they are focusing to help fuel the growth of smaller sized companies and organizations.

Sanergy is an organization based in Kenya that focuses on building healthy and prosperous communities by making sanitation affordable and accessible throughout Africa. It focuses on turning human waste product into reusable forms of energy. They build a network of low cost sanitation centers in the slums of Africa and distribute them throughout franchises and local entrepreneurs. Once they collect the produced waste they process it to make  fertilizer and run electricity. Throughout each step of their business model jobs and opportunities are created for citizens.

Following in the footsteps of large scale (or small scale)  social companies can help you determine what will work for your own organization. It will also help you weed out options that are far fetched or simply not worth taking.

Become “Ethically” Certified

One way to maintain a public persona of ethical business standards is to become a Benefit Corporation (BCorp). This allows for profit companies that meet meticulous standards of social and environmental performance to be certified. This allows companies to be held accountable and transparent with their consumers. This B Corp movement is built on the fact that a business should impact and benefit more than just its shareholders. B Corp companies use the power of the markets they are involved in to help solve social and environmental issues. A company or organization applying to become a B Corp company must meet very specific performance and legal requirements that hold them accountable to their social duties.

There are several reasons an individual or a group of individuals would want to pursue a business built on the social entrepreneur standards. Providing profits and resources to benefit the community around oneself and ones business can help to n



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