Dr. David Bozward - Entrepreneurship, Enterprise & Education

Finding a Social Entrepreneur

The development of social enterprise over the last few years has lead to a wider appeal and also an increase in students looking at enterprise as a career option. These students are looking at the problems within their society and developing innovative solutions to the problems of today. This will be one of the core legacies of this recession as the young have seen how corporate greed can and does lead to a range of social and ethical issues.

We can not rely on bankers to mess up the economy so we can create greater social entrepreneurs.

So what are the core characteristics and triggers for social enterprise and entrepreneurs ?

Social enterprise is not new, so there is much evidence into its impact and development.  (Zahra et al). So reviewing some of the literature we essential have three types of social entrepreneur.

  1. Social Bricoleur : who is focused on small scale local social needs
  2. Social Constructionist : who exploits opportunities and market failures in order to introduce reforms in “broader” social system
  3. Social Engineer : who recognizes systemic failures and addresses them by introducing revolutionary change

Once we understand these three types, the development of the civic, social system and revolutionary change means we can identify a number of personal characteristics or attributes which the social entrepreneurs should hold, (Brooks pp12)

  • Innovativeness
  • Achievement Orientation
  • Independence
  • Sense of control over destiny
  • Low risk-aversion
  • Tolerance for ambiguity
  • Community awareness and social concerns

The first six are standard entrepreneurial attributes which you can find in the majority of literature and also entrepreneur tests, with the the seven being the community  aspect which introduces the social aspect of the entrepreneur.

These characteristics allow a level of entrepreneurship to exists when triggered. These trigger points are important (e.g. Banking Crisis). There are five entrepreneur trigger points which (Brooks, pp9).

  • Environment
  • Resources
  • Perturbation / Displacement
  • Personal Traits
  • Preparation

The majority of universities now have greater support for social enterprise, through partnerships with UnLtd and charitable organizations. These help create the right environment and provide the much needed resources to develop the idea. The education preparation for social entrepreneurship has been embedded into our education system for many years. Within the HE sector, we can see great examples from RAG, ENACTUS to formal Volunteering.

The social entrepreneur provides an opportunity to work with a real local issue and develop an eco system which ensures  real role models and local engagement for a wider set of students throughout their degrees. This is important in developing and maintaining our local economies.

By understanding the trigger points for social enterprise, we can help develop the skills and personal characteristics within our education system for successful social entrepreneurs.