It's interesting to see the diverse ideas around what is meant by "social entrepreneurship"

Some think a social enterprise aims to improve the condition of society, regardless of whether the process is supported by market fundamentals.  Others believe that running a successful business is key as long as all proceeds are channeled back into the social cause.  In either case, to qualify, the business needs to be overwhelmingly for the public good with minimal sign of profit-making along the way.

I think a more nuanced view is useful - which allows all of us - whether we are manufacturers, bankers, lawyers or cleaners (or do other work entirely) to feel like we are part of the bigger picture.  Which of course we are. 

To this end, Seth Godin writes:

"It's tempting to reserve the new term 'social entrepreneurs' for that rare breed that builds a significant company organized around the idea of changing the culture for the better.

The problem with this term is that lets everyone else off the hook. The prefix social implies that regular entrepreneurs have nothing to worry about, and that the goal of every un-prefixed organization and project (the 'regular kind') is to only make as much money as possible, as fast as possible.

But that's not how the world works.

Every project causes change to happen, and the change we make is social. The jobs we take on, the things we make, the side effects we cause—they're not side effects, they're merely effects. When we make change, we're responsible for the change we choose to make.

All of us, whichever job or project we choose to take on, do something to change the culture. That social impact, positive or negative is our choice.

It turns out that all of us are social entrepreneurs. It's just that some people are choosing to make a bigger (and better) impact than others.

It's a spectrum, not a label."

If we take Seth's view, when we teach global mindedness to students, they won't necessarily feel they have to choose between entering  a purely money making career, but give up the possibility of creating positive change, and an altruistic career where they may sacrifice their ability to provide meaningfully for themselves and their families in order to improve the world.

Let's not let ourselves off the hook with this artificial dichotomy.

We are all be part of the bigger picture whether we like it or not.  When we are aware of it, we can choose to bring a higher level of ethics, pride and responsibility to the work we do.

 

* Seth Godin's blog post from http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ (25 May 2015) - where you can read other posts (or even subscribe to future posts)!

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