The idea of “social entrepreneurship” has struck a responsive cord. It is a phrase well suited to our times. It combines the passion of a social mission with an image of business-like discipline, innovation, and determination.
The time is aptly set for entrepreneurial approaches to Kenya’s social problems.
The language of social entrepreneurship may be new, but the phenomenon is not. 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 by looking for the most effective methods of serving their social missions.
Bill Drayton founded Ashoka in 1978, an organization which supports local social entrepreneurs. Drayton tells his employees to look for four qualities: creativity, entrepreneurial quality, social impact of the idea, and ethical fiber. Creativity has two parts: goal-setting and problem-solving. Social entrepreneurs are creative enough to have a vision of what they want to happen and how to make that vision happen.
In their book The Power of Unreasonable People, John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan identify why social entrepreneurs are, as they put it, unreasonable. They argue that these men and women seek profit in social output where others would not expect profit. They also ignore evidence suggesting that their enterprises will fail and attempt to measure results which no one is equipped to measure.
The Schwab Foundation says that Social Entrepreneurs have, “A zeal to measure and monitor their impact. The Schwab Foundation employs the following criteria when looking for leading social entrepreneurs: Innovation, Sustainability, Reach and Social impact.
You may already be an agent of change in your sphere of influence, a social entrepreneur. I therefore pose the following questions to awaken your hunger for change.
- Do you have an unwavering belief in the innate capacity of all people to contribute meaningfully to economic and social development?
- Do you possess a driving passion to make that happen?
- Do you apply practical but innovative stances to a social problem, often using market principles and forces?
- Do you measure and monitor your impact with zeal?
- Do you burn with a healthy impatience?
Social Entrepreneurs cannot sit back and wait for change to happen – we are the change drivers.
Today I encourage you to drive social innovation and transformation in your various fields and to pursue poverty alleviation goals for Kenya with entrepreneurial zeal, business methods, using your courage to innovate and overcome traditional practices.