The language of social entrepreneurship may not be new, but the strategies and metrics are still developing globally. We have always had social entrepreneurs, even if we did not call them that. They originally built many of the institutions we now take for granted. However, the new name is important in that it implies a blurring of sector boundaries. In addition to innovative not-for-profit ventures, social entrepreneurship can include social purpose business ventures, such as for-profit community development banks, and hybrid organizations mixing not-for-profit and for-profit elements, such as homeless shelters that start businesses to train and employ their residents.
Though the concept of social entrepreneurship is gaining popularity, it means different things to different people. Many associate social entrepreneurship exclusively with not-for-profit organizations starting for-profit or earned-income ventures. Others use it to describe anyone who starts a not-for-profit organization. Still others use it to refer to business owners who integrate social responsibility into their operations. What does “social entrepreneurship” really mean? In my opinion it simply means “doing well and doing good” at the same time. The phenomena applies to both small and large business alike and the fundamentals are rooted in how a company engages in the community and how it uses its brand, its products and its assets for a particular cause or area of IMPACT.
Look for more companies and small business in Detroit to continue to explore theses strategies and to launch initiatives in neighborhoods like Corktown, Eastern Market University District and West Village. Good things are on the horizon as the business and social sectors across Michigan continue to collaborate and create a shared vision.