Edited by Dr KK Tse
What is Social Entrepreneurship?
Simply put, social entrepreneurship is entrepreneurial spirit targeted at addressing major social issues.
A social enterprise is a business with a social mission; it aspires to becoming self-sustaining by generating income and profits, but its profits are primarily reinvested in the enterprise to further fulfill its social mission.
A social entrepreneur is an individual who is passionate about tackling a social issue and is capable of creating new solutions and a self-sustaining organization to tackle that issue.
We believe that one of the major weaknesses of many social enterprises in Hong Kong at this moment is the lack of entrepreneurship.
We believe that what Hong Kong most urgently needs right now is more social entrepreneurs.
That is why we focus on promoting and supporting social entrepreneurship.
Some perspectives on Social Entrepreneurs
Distinctive characteristics commonly found among social entrepreneurs:
- self-motivation and self belief
Source: UnLtd, the UK nation-wide organization promoting social entrepreneurship
“Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change. Social entrepreneurs are often seen to be possessed by their ideas, committing their lives to changing the direction of their field. They are both visionaries and ultimate realists, concerned with the practical implementation of their vision above all else.
Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish and teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”
Source: Ashoka Foundation, the premier organization promoting social entrepreneurship worldwide
“What business entrepreneurs are to the economy, social entrepreneurs are to social change. They are driven, creative individuals who question the status quo, exploit new opportunities, refuse to give up – and change the world for the better.
Social entrepreneurs identify resources where people only see problems. They view the villagers as the solution, not the passive beneficiary. They begin with the assumption of competence and unleash resources in the community they’re serving.
Social entrepreneurs are people with new ideas to address major problems, who are relentless in their pursuit of their visions, who simply will not take ‘no’ for an answer, who will not give up until they have spread their ideas as far as they possibly can.”
Source: David Bornstein, How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas (Oxford: OUP, 2004)
天下文化: 志工企業家: 提昇人類社會的力量 (台灣 2006)，
新星出版社: 如何改變世界: 社會企業家與新思想的威力 (北京 2006)
“A social entrepreneur identifies and solves social problems on a large scale. Just as business entrepreneurs create and transform whole business, social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss in order to improve systems, invent and disseminate new approaches and advance sustainable solutions that create social value.
Identifying and solving large-scale social problems requires a committed person with a vision and determination to persist in the face of daunting odds. Ultimately, social entrepreneurs are driven to produce measurable impact by opening up new pathways for the marginalized and disadvantaged, and unlocking society’s full potential to effect social change.”
Source: The New Heroes, a four-hour documentary on social entrepreneurs worldwide hosted by Robert Redford, produced and aired by PBS in the US.
“Entrepreneurs have always been the drivers of innovation and progress. In the business world, they act as engines of growth, harnessing opportunity and innovation to fuel economic advancement. Social entrepreneurs act similarly, tapping inspiration and creativity, courage and fortitude, to seize opportunities that challenge and forever change established, but fundamentally inequitable systems. They seek value in the form of transformational change that will benefit disadvantaged communities and ultimately society at large.”
Source: Skoll Foundation, created in 1999 by eBay’s first president, Jeff Skoll, to invest in , connect and celebrate social entrepreneurs around the world.
“A Social Entrepreneur is a pragmatic visionary who achieves large scale, systemic and sustainable social change through a new invention, a different approach, a more rigorous application of known technologies or strategies, or a combination of these.
Social entrepreneurs share common traits including:
- an unwavering belief in the innate capacity of all people to contribute meaningfully to economic and social development
- a driving passion to make that happen.
- a practical but innovative stance to a social problem, often using market principles and forces, coupled with dogged determination, and pushes them to take risks that others wouldn’t dare.
- a zeal to measure and monitor their impact. Data, both quantitative and qualitative, are their key tools, guiding continuous feedback and improvement.
- a healthy impatience. Social entrepreneurs don’t do well in bureaucracies. They cannot sit back and wait for change to happen – they are the change drivers.”
Source: The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship which has created a world-wide platform of outstanding social entrepreneurs.
Research Report on Business for Good: Understanding the Motivations for Business to Create Shared Value
By Hong Kong Social Entrepreneurship Forum, Ernst & Young, InnoFoco Limited and the global Social Innovation Exchange (16 Nov 2020)
How to find work that matters – Q&A with Monday
By Unreasonable Institute (1 Aug 2017)
作者：黎宇琳，藍廣雨；原文出自「公益資本論」(3 May 2017)
Building Global Community
By Mark Zuckerberg (17 Feb 2017)
(27 Jan 2016)
The Rise of Social Stock Exchanges: A new, innovative platform is helping more investors support social enterprises
By Bandini Chhichhia (8 Jan 2015)
Benefit Corporation and L3C Adoption: A Survey
By Kate Cooney, Justin Koushyar, Matthew Lee, & Haskell Murray (5 Dec 2014)
Not Everyone Should Be a Social Entrepreneur
By Lara Galinsky, the senior vice president of Echoing Green (19 July 2012)
Best Place in The World for Social Entrepreneurs?
By James Norris (28 Sept 2011)