Edited by Dr KK Tse

There will be a luncheon seminar on June 28 which will focus exactly on this topic, organised by Education for Good. It is the first attempt to systematically introduce to the business community why they should know more about the development of social entrepreneurship as a global movement and what they could and should do to support and collaborate with social entrepreneurs.

This is an ambitious attempt, and there will be more events and activities of this nature to be offered by the newly founded social enterprise, Education for Good, of which I am the Chair and Chief Education Officer.

The Central Question

Put simply, this is the question we will focus on:

Why should a business entrepreneur or executive be concerned about social entrepreneurship?

To answer this question, we have to address the following:

  • What is social entrepreneurship?
  • How did it come about?
  • How does a social entrepreneur differ from a business entrepreneur?
  • Who are the social entrepreneurs?
  • What kind of impact have they made on the society?
  • How has it impacted on mainstream business?
  • What has been mainstream business’ response?
  • What are the opportunities and challenges?
  • What is happening in HK?

Our challenge is to address these questions in such a practical and down-to-earth manner that they will resonate with the business audience.

What is social entrepreneurship?

The simplest answer is:

Mother Teresa + Richard Branson

Or in plain English, social entrepreneurship combines the resourcefulness of traditional entrepreneurship with a mission to change society.

Or in another word, “Social entrepreneurship” refers to the rapidly growing number of organizations that have created models for efficiently catering to basic human needs that existing markets and institutions have failed to satisfy.

These might be words that business people would find easy to comprehend. Or are they?

How did social entrepreneurship come about?

Modern societies have become more and more complex since the Industrial Revolution. Along with rising productivity and standards of living, there also emerge more and more intractable social problems. Many of these problems require government actions to solve or alleviate; and indeed governments around the world have done a lot to tackle many of these issues. But some of them simply defy government interventions; or to put it in another way, sometimes government agencies might not have the capability or ingenuity to tackle these issues.

The business sector occupies a unique role in society. On the one hand, its activities generate much needed products and services, employment, income and wealth which generally benefit the whole society. On the other hand, however, it also creates new social issues that might have an adverse effect on the society, such as excessive consumption, income polarization, environmental deterioration, etc. The fact that the business sector is pivotal to the functioning of the society often magnifies both the positive and negative impact that it generates. In recent decades, the growing attention to Corporate Social Responsibility contributes to mitigate some of the negative effects. But on the whole, these efforts are grossly inadequate to address the many pressing social issues that are threatening the harmonious functioning of society.

Enter the social entrepreneur

It is in this context that social entrepreneurs have emerged and have begun to play an ever-increasing role in addressing some of the burning social issues of our times. Please join us at the upcoming luncheon seminar to continue the dialogue with the business community.