Social enterprise advocates the use of entrepreneurship to bring about beneficial changes to society. It includes in its spectrum not only the makings of a profit-oriented business, but also social and political inclinations via the formation of enterprises like NGOs, social welfare societies and political entities. The aim of social enterprise is to achieve huge success by way of greatly influencing the socio-political scenario of a country or region.
The entrepreneur in this regard identifies the scope of the opportunity or problem, maneuvers his available resources effectively, and sources what he requires from other entities through different entrepreneurial resources. An attitude of thrift and a proactive way of functioning are what such individuals should ideally take to while seeking to do better for the good of the community they operate in/for.
As opposed to a business entrepreneur whose main objective is to reap financial rewards for his/her venture, a social entrepreneur is someone who stands for the disadvantaged and deprived and strives to make changes in the social system in order to bring about benefits and welfare for all. Social entrepreneurs is about creating innovative ideas and following systematic approaches to fulfill the needs of the underprivileged populace who, due to their poverty or other issues, cannot obtain even the basic means to meet their daily needs.
Bunker Roy is a prominent example of a social entrepreneur. He brought the light of education to those who were in the dark of illiteracy in India. He founded the Barefoot College, and set up various branches in rural communities in India to provide free education to those who did not have access to it. Barefoot College has produced reputed and capable engineers, teachers and health workers who are now changing the face of villages across India.
When it comes to social enterprise, Ann Cotton cannot be left out. Cotton started the Campaign for Female Education or CAMFED in 1993 to provide free education to underprivileged girls in Africa. Her foundation provides financial support to young girls to complete their education and then take up an occupation or even start a business. Thousands of girls have benefited greatly from Ann Cotton's campaigns, and have made a name for themselves ever since.
Social enterprises like these are the trendsetters of pioneering ideas, systems, approaches and ways to benefit society. They make use of their current resources and channel them to help those who do not have access to the luxuries such entrepreneurs do. In many ways, social enterprise is philanthropic in nature, and has truly changed the way we live for the better.