Martin Montero has an excellent article reminding us about the real value of social entrepreneurship. Some quotes are below, but I encourage you to read the whole post. We should all reevaluate our work in the social enterprise space with this framework in mind.
Social entrepreneurship, if done properly, creates, fosters, and grows communities with new opportunities which were never within their reach before.
Social entrepreneurship is not about “giving back,” be that in donating 1-100% of your profits to a good cause or slick “buy one, give one” marketing schemes. (And especially not ones with such opaque supply chains as TOMS shoes, where it is unclear who is making the shoes, under what working conditions and how much they are getting paid.)
Social enterprise empowers people so that they can amplify the great work they are doing already. It is not something done to people or for people. It should be a collaborative effort done with and chiefly by those people.
Social entrepreneurship is not about elitist fellowships, conferences, summits, accelerators, coworking spaces, or contests. Social entrepreneurship is not about charity or even about philanthropy, and it’s certainly not about wealth redistribution. Social entrepreneurship is about opportunity and power distribution.
Members of privileged groups can be part of the solution by sharing power with underserved communities as they contribute their skills, knowledge and labor to solve their own problems and create value for society. This should be a partnership. Privileged groups should not be saviors or benevolent agents – rather they should be collaborators in creating a healthy economy that benefits everyone.
You don’t solve poverty with money. You solve poverty with agency.
One of social entrepreneurship’s main roles is to empower the disenfranchised to become independent of philanthropy, charity and aid. Social entrepreneurship must evolve to create models that strike at the root causes and structures of social inequality.