Social Entrepreneur – You might be familiar with the term. According to Ashoka.org, social entrepreneurs are individuals who come up with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing problems. These are the ones who identify the cracks in the system – opportunities to uplift communities at once. These leaders strive and innovate through to impart social change. So what are they made of? What makes social entrepreneurs stand out?
We at Impactpreneurs want to highlight 5 key traits that we noticed in successful social entrepreneurs:
- Socially aware –
Harish Hande, founder of SELCO, was always interested in energy inclusion. An alumni of IIT Kharagpur and University of Massachusetts, he travelled around rural areas of India and Sri Lanka getting in touch with the harsh reality on the ground. Today, his firm SELCO, an established player in the sector provides sustainable energy solutions based on local assessments.
Social entrepreneurs are aware and actively involved with communities they work with. They understand the problems and the situations on the ground. This connection may act locally, but their actions have the potential to stimulate global improvements in their field. (Know the top 4 differentiators between social and non-stream startup on the Impactpreneurs’ blog)
- Purpose oriented –
Constantly striving to create change, social entrepreneurs are driven by a deep sense of purpose.Each one of them are driven by a cause that inspires them. Committed wholeheartedly to the cause, every action, every solution is motivated by it.
- Self-critical –
Successful social entrepreneurs balance self-confidence with self-honesty. Being self-critical goes a long way in terms of filling gaps in knowledge, skills and plans. The ideals should be attached to the goal rather than to the approach or plan.
- Innovative –
“Entrepreneur” is based on French words for “taking into own hands”. And that’s exactly what social entrepreneurs do. They don’t rely on existing systems and platforms. They challenge the status quo and come up with innovative solutions to tackle social issues. They are not bound by constraints and are not tied down to specific ideologies.
- Tenacious –
“Its hard work,” said D.Light co-founder Sam Goldman. “If you’re going to leverage your time, your relationships, your sweat, your money, into solving a problem, why not try to solve problems that if you are successful in, you move history in the right direction?”
Social entrepreneurs deal with communities at once, tackling problems that are exponentially complex. This takes a tenacious attitude and mind-set. They move with such persistence that they never let obstacles or naysayers deter them. They keep trying until it works.
- Strong Organizational skills –
Verghese Kurien, in early 1950s had a vision – of growing dairy farming in India and curing India’s milk deficiency and created world’s biggest cooperative – Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, Amul. The organization not only helped marginal and poor milk producers grow economically, it helped India become world’s biggest milk producer in about 25 years. A critical part of this White revolution lied in his organizational skills.
The backbone of entrepreneurship lies in the organization. It is the engine that drives the motivation and the idea in action. Social entrepreneurs leverage strong organizational forces to achieve desired social changes.Their visions are not limited by the resources that they have. They garner support, seek out more resources and motivate associations. Great leaders are able to impart change in circumstances of extreme scarcity. They see opportunities where others don’t – tapping on every avenue possible.