Oriinal article written for TEDxKEA; available here : http://tedxkea.com/enough-enough-2/
photo cred : Dovile Montvydaite
Last week, we discussed the emergence of social entrepreneurship as a catalyst of new ideas. It is true that entrepreneurship in itself, social, or otherwise, drives the inception and cultivation of furthering societies’ evolution.
History is full of champions whose stories have rocked the very foundations of what we believed was possible. The lightning bolt of inspiration is sought after by every would – be game changer, but the method remains the same. A stroke of insight, with the vision to see something that is not there and ask why not? The drive and fire to bring ideas to being, rounds off this age-old method.
This is true of the ideas of Florence Nightingale as it is of those of Steve Jobs. In today’s world, entrepreneurial guile is behind some of the world’s biggest brands and their consumers, stakeholders and so on. In fact, the hard work of a few ambitious people is at the throbbing heart of a world driven by a focus that cultivates entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurs generate ideas or latch onto good ideas, string together the interests of different stakeholders and create brand new business concepts that provide goods and services to fulfill needs. Societies benefit from employment and the creation of jobs, industry, infrastructure, connectedness, and the state gains from similar developments. Entrepreneurs themselves fulfill their goals whilst making a profit from the activities spawned of their ideas.
This is all well and good so far and from the outset, a functional model where everyone is happy seems apparent.
Scratch beneath the surface, however, and you will find that this economic model is riddled with flaws. Many of the profits generated by businesses are not re-invested in society, but rather hoarded by entrepreneurs who correctly enough, have worked long and hard to propel their ideas to prominence.
There are other issues at stake that overwhelm the case for the maintenance of this model and the social inequalities it reproduces.
One of the most driven speakers at our event this year, Lars Hulgård is of the opinion that “we need a society with more solidarity from one business to another; a pluralistic society that allows for alternative forms of organisational structure, not merely those that are anchored in making a profit.”
Idealistic as this may seem, we are, right now, on the verge of tipping the scale. This generation has had enough. How many more economic crises’ will it take, how many more screaming examples from history do we need to see that something has to change for our sheer survival ?
As a pioneer within the increasingly acknowledged field of social entrepreneurship, Lars is of the belief that this area of our society holds potential as a vehicle for global change. However, it needs to be more than just a buzzword: “We need to re-think social entrepreneurship outside of the current discourse that is very much based on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and standard economic practice. What happened to the critique of these models and how did social entrepreneurship all of a sudden become a part of this?”
It is this very critique and indeed the definition of the field that Hulgård has spent many years of his life cultivating.
The challenge will always be incentivising this, merging the rewards with idealisms; forging this new paradigm.
All it will take is one valiant entrepreneur to make that splash, to revolutionise an industry and show us there is a way. Social entrepreneurship is emerging in the global narrative of social change but it needs support and solidarity from free-thinkers and society at large. Rest assured, the floodgates will open, but for this we need the actions of social entrepreneurs to be backed by a more aware consumer base and for the free-thinking individuals reading this to rise to the challenge of shaping a more socially- driven paradigm for life on this planet.