Building Your Resilience as a Social Entrepreneur

I enjoy highlighting the works and business ideas of genuinely good people who are trying to make a difference in the world.

Social entrepreneurs, in particular, fascinate me because of their drive and passion towards contribution.

American Social Entrepreneur in Rural India

Today, we are presented with Heidi Krauel who decided to leave her career in finance and spent a year in India selling solar powered lights to slum dwellers. Heidi, aged 34, is one of the 3 social entrepreneurs featured in the upcoming PBS documentary, The New Recruits. This documentary profiles aspiring social entrepreneurs who journey to the world s most volatile and impoverished regions to effect change through business acumen.

Heidi, a tall, blonde, college-educated American woman, travelled to rural India under an Acumen Fund fellowship. While there, she developed a sales, distribution and marketing strategy, while also providing supply chain logistical support. Now back in her hometown of California, she works in the field of impact investing for New Island Capital Management.

The Work of Aid Organizations & Social Enterprises

ForbesWoman recently interviewed Heidi on their article entitled Heidi Krauel: New Recruit & Social Enterprise Champion, and you’ll find her comments very interesting. She emphasises that humanitarian relief can be important for short-term disaster situations, but that social enterprises and responsible businesses are essential for long-term economic development for poorer countries.

“I think that in crisis situations, aid is absolutely the appropriate response. For example, the earthquake in Haiti. In that instance, even D.Light Design, the company I worked for, which traditionally sells its products to customers, it donated a large number of lights because that’s the right thing to do in crisis situations. But if D.Light were going to continue to donate lights for free once the crisis has subsided, it would go out of business. And for a country to continue to develop, it can’t rely on aid. So the idea is that when charitable dollars run out, through social enterprise successful businesses can and will continue to grow and serve, which will benefit the economy of the country.”

Resilience as a Lesson to Share

On a more personal level, Heidi shares one of the greatest lessons she has learned from her experience in India.

What I learned was resilience. Trying to create new models or solutions for incredibly old problems—like poverty—is incredibly difficult…Trying to see the world through the eyes of the poor and to design new products, new distribution systems around that very diverse and complicated perspective is just tough. And I’m inspired every day because I was given the chance to be a part of that.

Resilience can be a lesson that is important for you as well for your business ideas. Social entrepreneurs must be determined to continue on even with the challenges that are thrown at them.

Like gold in a furnace, however, challenges make you stronger. It can test you to grow and innovate.

You can watch Heidi’s story in The New Recruits film documentary.