Social entrepreneurship is a major area of interest in many social and civic organizations and has a significant impact on many areas of society. During the past decade economic resources have become more difficult to acquire and society has continued to exhibit economic and cultural decline. Concurrently, communities are in need of initiatives that will enhance their financial viability and programs that will enhance the overall viability of the population.
Social entrepreneurship initiatives are ventures that can serve as a method of increasing the social value of a community, organization or cause while enhancing the financial viability of a not-for-profit organization. With this being stated, social entrepreneurship has been defined in different ways by many different theorists. Gary McPherson, Executive Administrator of the Canada Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, states that social entrepreneurship involves various individuals working toward meeting social and economic goals simultaneously; while Bill Drayton, CEO, defines social entrepreneurship as a term coined to describe “individuals who combine the pragmatic and results oriented methods of a business entrepreneur with the goals of social reform.”
A more basic definition of social entrepreneurship states that it is “the process of using entrepreneurial and business skills to create innovative approaches to social problems.” Therefore, it is a methodology that is presently being used to resolve community and societal concerns globally. Social entrepreneurship as an area of specialized entrepreneurship is not defined by the same titling in every culture. For example, in Latin America countries social entrepreneurship initiatives are referred to as “Micro Enterprise.” In India the same program would be identified as a “Social Mission.” Though termed differently in various regions, social entrepreneurship initiatives are being implemented to solve specific societal and community concerns by focusing on the needs and resource availability within specific geographic regions.
Social Entrepreneurship in Education Throughout the United States, many top tertiary level academic institutions are enhancing their business programs by including a curriculum that caters to the study of social entrepreneurship. In 2003, the Center for Responsible Business was launched on the University of California Berkley Campus. This subsidiary of the Haas School of Business was implemented with the intent of training students to be more principled and socially responsible members of society through attending “the preeminent educational institution in area of Corporate Social Responsibility.” Stanford University also has established a Center for Social Innovation as a part of its graduate school of business. This center was founded with the mission to “build and strengthen the capacity of individuals and organizations to develop innovative solutions to social problems for a more just, sustainable and healthy world.”
In 1993, Harvard Business School started its social enterprise program with its mission of “generating and sharing knowledge to help individuals and organizations to create social value in the not-for-profit, private and public sectors,” and the University of Miami has refocused its business school curriculum to include coursework in the areas of ethical-decision making, social entrepreneurship and community engagement with the primary focus being to expose students to various areas of civic engagement while concurrently teaching them leadership and team building skills.
Tertiary level institutions, including Duke, which has established a Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship as part of its Fuqua School of Business, and Columbia University where the research initiative on social entrepreneurship is embedded in its school of business, have also made strides to enhance the study and education of those seeking to venture into areas of social entrepreneurship and social venture implementation. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business-International (AACSB – International) has identified over twenty-four tertiary level institutions that have included social entrepreneurship as a part of their business college and or business curriculums.
With social entrepreneurship being perceived by many as a new way of stimulating social change, Idee Winfield believes that the implementation of community-focused service learning projects is the first step in exposing youth to the various attributes associated with social entrepreneurship. Through community involvement, youth will begin to visualize and experience the various social issues within their community and envision ways to solve these problems. Winfield states that social entrepreneurship should be promoted in primary and secondary education, and coursework should be adjusted to allow students to “see how abstract socially focused concepts can have real world applicability.” Jeffrey Soderborg, a member of the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Clearinghouse on Entrepreneurship Education, is also an ardent proponent of social venture education who believes that social entrepreneurship would be more readily accepted if youth were exposed to information expounding the laurels of these initiatives during their primary and secondary academic years.