Bill Drayton, founder and CEO of Ashoka, literally coined the term “social entrepreneur” when he founded the nonprofit back in 1980, almost 40 years ago.
The terms social entrepreneur and social entrepreneurship were used first in the literature in 1953 by H. Bowen in his book Social Responsibilities of the Businessman. The terms came into widespread use in the 1980s and 1990s, promoted by Bill Drayton, Charles Leadbeater, and others.
Social enterprise can be traced back at least as early as the 1840s, when a workers’ co-operative in Rochdale was set up to provide high-quality, affordable food in response to exploitative factory conditions.
A social entrepreneur is a person who pursues novel applications that have the potential to solve community-based problems. These individuals are willing to take on the risk and effort to create positive changes in society through their initiatives.
Ashoka founder and CEO Bill Drayton first used the term “social entrepreneurship” in the early 1980s, and it continues to inspire images of audacious social change—the kind that sweeps away the old approaches to solving intractable social problems such as disease, hunger, and poverty.
Where Did Social Enterprise originate?
In the United States, social enterprise in the form of commercial activity by non-profits saw its origins in various religious and community groups which held sales of home-made items to augment the voluntary donations they received. The emergence of social enterprise as a sector, however, began during the 1970s.
Origins. The idea of a social enterprise as a distinct concept first developed in the late 1970s in the UK as an alternative commercial organisational model to private businesses, co-operatives and public enterprise. The concept, at that time, had five main principles divided into three values and two paradigm shifts.
Social enterprises are independent businesses, autonomous of state/government control. They are owned and controlled in the interests of the organisations social/environmental mission. Social enterprises should earn at least 50% of their income through trading, rather than through grants or other funding.
Social entrepreneurship has been defined as entrepreneurship with a social goal, and social entrepre- neurs have been regarded as change agents (Dees, 1998a; Thompson, 2002). … In contrast, social enterprise repre- sents a business established for a social purpose, to create positive social change.
Social entrepreneurship didn’t evolve overnight. Its origins can be traced to the early 1980s, starting with a business trend called cause-related marketing.
A social enterprise or social business is defined as a business that has specific social objectives that serve its primary purpose. Social enterprises seek to maximize profits while maximizing benefits to society and the environment. Their profits are principally used to fund social programs.
Social entrepreneurs combine commerce and social issues in a way that improves the lives of people connected to the cause. … Others say business owners who work to solve a social problem using grant or government money are also social entrepreneurs.
Elon Musk’s efforts are more directly social-entrepreneurial. He’s helping to move the entire world away from gas powered vehicles (Tesla/Solar City), reducing urban congestion and improving rural life (SpaceX/Starlink), and trying to back up civilization on other planetary bodies (SpaceX).