A Social Entrepreneurship Job Can Help You Get Started

Blowing in the Wind [Photo by h.koppdelaney] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

A number of people get in touch with me to share their social entrepreneurship ambitions and discuss what business to start. However, many face the problem of getting simply started! Sometimes it helps to get some work experience before starting your own enterprise, and a social entrepreneurship job can be your first step.

A social entrepreneurship job is a great choice for those people who are passionate about sustainable development work. The field of social enterprise is varied and growing, meaning that it offers a wide range of job opportunities. Those who would like to learn more about the nature of social enterprise work should check out some websites like Ashoka, Echoing Green, the Social Enterprise Library and the Skoll Foundation which offer great resources on the topic.

Some websites like Fast Company offer an annual ranking of the best non profits and social enterprises to work for on their Social Capitalist Awards site. Business Ethics Magazine of Corporate responsibility also lists the top 100 corporations in terms of their CSR initiatives. Those who would like to work for a social enterprise may also want to consider looking at positions with one of the hundreds of certified B Corporations.

Be sure to also check out the social entrepreneurship jobs at our very own job board! There could be an opportunity that suits you, and could help you get ideas and get experience to figure out what business to start.

3 Examples of Social Enterprise in Pakistan

Often it’s useful to learn about successful social enterprises as role models for your own ideas. If you are thinking about what business to start, here are 3 social enterprise ideas from Pakistan, a country in South Asia, nearby Afghanistan and India.

1. YES Social Enterprise in Pakistan

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The Youth Engagement Services (YES) is a network dedicated to funding social enterprise in Pakistan. Specifically, YES looks to fund micro social enterprises which are created and run by disadvantaged youth in the country.

The goal is to turn alienated young people into socially engaged entrepreneurs who are active in their communities, with a vested interest in working for positive development. Most of the population of Pakistan is currently age 30 or younger, so reaching out to this sector of the society is crucial to the future of the country.

Pakistan currently lacks enough support services to help these young people develop their potential and contribute to their communities in positive ways. YES network reaches out to young people with a focus on ways they can contribute to economic growth in the country, which in turn lowers rates of violence and terrorism.

2. Kashf Pakistan Microfinance

Kashf means “miracle” or “revelation” in the native language of Pakistan. The Kashf Foundation began operating in 1996 in the area of Pakistan microfinance in order to aid the poor women living in the Lahore area. The first round of microcredit from Kashf was given out to 15 women who used it to start up small businesses which generated income for themselves and their families.

Since that time, the client base of Kashf has expanded rapidly and currently reaches over 60,000. They continue to focus on the unique needs of women in Pakistan via a unique economic empowerment program which includes both financial assistance and non financial services as well.

The foundation operates in a sustainable manner and has developed a reputation as one of the top microfinance funders in the country.

3. Jassar Farms Social Business in Pakistan

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Jassar Farms is a social business in Pakistan founded by a graduate of one of the most elite universities in the country. Shahzad Iqbal quit his job in banking to move to a small village in Narowal and get into the dairy farming business.

He focused his years of business school training on his new business and organized Jassar Farms into a corporate structure and found ways of increasing the average milk yield of each of his cows. The average milk yield of cows in Pakistan is 4 liters of milk daily, which is far lower than the average of 33 liters per day produced by cows in developed countries.

Rather than paying thousands of dollars per cow to import them from the US or Australia, Shahzad began using artificial insemination to crossbreed elite bulls with local cows. Hopefully, these examples of businesses have given you some food for thought when you reflect on what business to start.

Characteristics of Social Entrepreneurship

Characteristics of Social Entrepreneurship That Successful Organizations Share

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Successful social enterprises share certain characteristics of social entrepreneurship in common. Chief among these is the willingness to self-correct. It’s estimated that 90% of successful ventures start out with the wrong business plan, and the ones that succeed must therefore alter course at some point. It takes a combination of humility and courage to admit when something isn’t working and question your assumptions.

Another important characteristic is the willingness to share credit. A good example of this is the Ashoka Fellow of the Year David Kuria of Kenya. He’s the founder of IkoToilet, which built hygenic and affordable toilets for 1 million slumdwellers in Kibera, a district of Nairobi. When he realized that government regulations would make it difficult to expand, he put the City Council of Nairobi’s logo on all Ikotoilets to gain their support.


Defining Characteristics of Social Entrepreneurship

Other defining characteristics of social entrepreneurship include the ability to shrug off the constraints of ideology in order to identify and apply practical solutions to social problems. This requires a combination of innovation, resourcefulness and opportunity. Innovation is necessary for finding new products, services and approaches to social problems, but that’s just the first step.

To apply these ideas successfully requires focus on social value creation and a willingness to share the innovations and insights for others to replicate. Often social entrepreneurs will have to take a leap of faith in pursuing their ideas before they are able to secure full funding. To deal with the high level of risk involved, they must possess an unwavering belief in their innate capacity to contribute meaningfully to economic and social development, and exhibit a dogged determination that pushes them to take the necessary risks.

Characteristics of Social Entrepreneurship Change Agents

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It’s worth noting that many of the characteristics of social entrepreneurship are shared by traditional business startups as well. Some characteristics that differ include an explicitly formulated mission to create and sustain social value and to benefit communities. This involves the pursuit of new opportunities and hidden resources to serve that mission, and a quest for sustainable models based on a well-elaborated feasibility study.

Success requires ongoing engagement in innovation, adaptation and learning. In social enterprises, decision-making power is not based on capital ownership, but rather the participatory and collaborative nature of these organizations involve various stakeholders. Due to this fact, there is often a limited distribution of profit and a minimum amount of paid work associated with these enterprises. However, they empower people in other ways by putting change opportunities in the hands of every individual.

3 Examples of Corporate Social Entrepreneurship

1. Asian Corporate Social Entrepreneurship Awards

IMG_3571 [Photo by David Boyle in DC] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Malakoff Corporation Bhd, a Malaysian company based in Kuala Lumpur, was recognized for its pioneering corporate social entrepreneurship.

At the Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards 2011, Malakoff won top honors in the social empowerment category. The win is a testimony to the successful collaboration between the company and its stakeholders, especially the local communities where they operate. According to CEO Zainal Abidin Jalil the award has reinforced their commitment to do even more in terms of their CSR initiatives going forward. The Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards recognize and honor corporations that champion sustainable and responsible entrepreneurship in seven different categories.

These include social empowerment, green leadership, investment in people, corporate governance, health promotion, SME CSR and responsible business leadership. The 2011 competition featured a total of 28 corporations from six Southeast Asian countries competing for the top spots.

2. Corporate Social Entrepreneurship in Sport

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When it comes to the area of youth sports, a popular approach by corporate sponsors is to provide funding for a single event with very little allocated to medium or long-term development. It can be argued that sponsorship from the business sector must progress from a notion of corporate social responsibility to corporate social entrepreneurship. This would maximize the relationship between company and community and ensure sustainable development in all aspects, including sport.

Most sponsors still look for high-profile branding opportunities and ignore those activities in remote communities with limited photo-ops. Funding should go beyond tokenism and facilitate a more sustainable approach to sport at the community level.

A well known community activist in Trinidad and Tobago, Muhammad Shabazz, has noted that the rising tide of gang violence in his community could be addressed through youth sports programs. Many of these youths are talented in sports, and if given the opportunities to develop would likely channel their energies away from crime.

3. Corporate Social Entrepreneurship in Tanzania

The National Bank of Commerce (NBC) in Tanzania has donated Sh 18.2 million to the Equal Opportunity to All Fund (EOTF) for the training of 250 women entrepreneurs from different regions of the country. This assistance is part of the bank’s corporate social entrepreneurship program.

The head of NBC Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Ms Mwinda Kiula-Mfugale, noted that many local women need only a small amount of capital for their businesses to be successful. By empowering them financially and economically, they will be able to face their life challenges and improve their communities as well.

She said that the investment would ultimately increase employment opportunities in the country, which is one of the pillars of the bank’s CSR policy. As part of the EOTF program, the 250 women would receive education on how to utilize loans, improve the quality of their products and market them effectively.

Social Entrepreneurship Examples

KvK Creative Entrepreneurs Gathering at Strijp-S [Photo by Cea.] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

New social entrepreneurs will find a wealth of social entrepreneurship examples from which they can draw inspiration and ideas.

Dr. V and David Green are two famous social entrepreneurs who set up a trust in Madurai, India with the goal of providing accessible health care technology and services to the local community. They founded this organization back in 1976, and today it has grown to be one of the largest facilities for eye care in the world. They have expanded to 4 other cities in India to offer services to more people, and today attract patients from all over the world. Another inspiring example of social entrepreneurship from India was founded by social entrepreneur Vikram Akula. His for profit company empowers the poor through micro finance. Over the years, they have increased economic opportunity for the disenfranchised in India by giving them access to financial services, and helped many poor families turn their lives around by starting small businesses.

Another great example of social entrepreneurship can be found in the social media space. The new fashion company was started by two young Southern California social entrepreneurs who applied their social media skills to raise huge awareness for their idea, and to successfully raise capital for their start up as well. The 19 and 26 year old founders were already successful entrepreneurs who decided that running a strictly for profit business was not satisfying enough. They also recognized that starting a traditional charity was not the answer, since they saw how many of these were going out of business due to lack of funding and awareness.

Entrepreneurship [Photo by Michael Lewkowitz] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The UK has been a great source of social entrepreneurship examples and inspiration, with British social entrepreneurs coming up with a variety of exciting ideas that have become famous around the world. The Big Issue, the Eden Project and Jamie Oliver’s successful city restaurant are just a few of the well known social enterprises to come out of the UK over the years. Another award winning example is a fair trade chocolate company that set the standard for ethical food businesses. It is based on the co-op model, meaning it is co-owned by a cocoa farmers cooperative called Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana. Another award winning social entrepreneurship example from the UK is a company that helps women find flexible employment.

The Social Enterprise Alliance has compiled some great social entrepreneurship case studies from around the world. One recent example is the story of a a social enterprise dedicated to the prevention and reduction of crime. They develop and implement innovative transitional services that help their clients to transform their lives following and successfully re-enter their communities. The company uses methods which have been proven most effective in allowing clients to successfully transition to productive roles in society. They employ highly qualified staff and implement the latest breakthroughs in the field to design their curricula. They also develop and maintain collaborative relationships with community partners to provide clients with networks of support. This helps to boost the community stake in each client’s successful transition back into society. The ultimate goal of the company is to help clients maintain a productive and law abiding lifestyle.