Social Entrepreneurship Revisited is a fascinating article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. It describes research on social entrepreneurs by NYU professor Paul Light.
What really jumped out at me about this article is the description of social entrepreneurs is almost exactly the same as most descriptions of private sector entrepreneurs. Key quote:
Social entrepreneurs appear to make quite deliberate decisions to solve social problems, rather than simply stumbling into their work by accident or circumstance. They are often quite sober about their decision to attack a social problem, and they usually understand the consequences of challenging the status quo. I also find that social entrepreneurs are driven by a persistent, almost unshakable optimism. They persevere in large part because they truly believe that they will succeed in spite of messages to the contrary. This optimism can border on overconfidence, but is essential to their 24/7 commitment.
Sound familiar? The article goes on to describe 5 or so other attributes of social entrepreneurship that sound pretty much the same aprivate sector entrepreneurship.
This doesn't surprise me. It makes sense that the same type of person that pursues regular entrepreneurship is also the type to pursue social entrepreneurship. And most of the great private sector entrepreneurs I've known have been driven in large part by a desire to change the world.
But what is really interesting is that this is listed as a new insight in the article. This seems to suggest that it is only recently that social entrepreneurship has attracted the type of entrepreneurs that are common in the private sector.
We've recently started a deeper dive on social entrepreneurship. Many of the experts and social entrepreneurs we've talked to feel we are entering a golden age of social entrepreneurship. There are many reasons for this (more later). But the key reason is simple - the sector appears to be attracting many more true entrepreneurs than in the past.