From Regular to Social Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Editor Mutiyat Ade-Salu makes a case for social entrepreneurs and using a non-profit business structure
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Editor Mutiyat Ade-Salu makes a case for social entrepreneurs and using a non-profit business structure…
It’s not hard to transform yourself from a regular entrepreneur to a social entrepreneur: just make it your mission to incorporate one social cause into your business’s bottom line and stick with it.
Social Business Structure
One problem, though, is choosing the best business structure to accomplish your social endeavors. Mixing business with social concerns can be tricky since, in all scenarios, the primary beneficiary should be the disadvantaged population you are serving. Many are familiar with how social enterprises like Yele Haiti – the relief organization Wyclef Jean started in 2001 – can fail due to mismanagement. To figure out the best organizational model to keep you legally sound, it might be helpful to look to the Schwab Foundation.
The foundation suggests you adopt one of 3 types of models:
- Leveraged non-profit venture
- Hybrid non-profit venture
- Social business venture
A leveraged non-profit venture relies on funds such as grants from philanthropists or grant-making organizations.
Hybrid non-profit ventures are often made up of several related companies that receive funding from a “hybrid” of sources such as the public, the government, and possibly equity.
A social business venture does seek to make profit while creating a measurable impact on society at the same time. (This impact can be measured by a method called SROI or social return on investment.) However, initially, profits are reinvested into the company to support its growth.
From Regular to Social Entrepreneur
You might be thinking, “What are some ways to go from a typical entrepreneur to a social entrepreneur?” Two immediate examples that come to my mind are past Applause Africa guests James Lott and Emmanuel Wonder. James has created a company that seeks to predict and prevent drug addiction in patients and Emmanuel has an enterprise of several companies which indirectly benefit his soccer camp for boys and girls, ages 7-18.
Other ideas are going from a lemonade seller to a charcoal/ PH balanced-water seller or going from a human hair-weave seller to cancer-patient wig seller. The point is to take your company from serving a basic need to serving a life-changing one.
Hearts of Hope
In 2014, when close to 300 schoolgirls were abducted from Chibok, Nigeria, I thought for many months, “What could I do to help?” At that time there was no charitable organization to donate money to and there still isn’t. However, a few organizations have been created to help those affected by similar insurgencies by Boko Haram. One of them is the Pathfinders Justice Initiative founded by attorney Evon Idahosa from SODIL. After learning about her organization in 2016, I partnered with her to strategize ways to raise funds for her Hearts of Hope Project. As an artist, I hardly make the salary of a doctor or lawyer, nonetheless, my craft is extremely valuable. In 2017, I decided to dedicate time to being a social entrepreneur and use my art as a vocalist and actor to raise funds for the project. This May in Seattle, Washington, my company Vineyard Entertainment will produce a reading of stageplays about the issue of women and war and invite audience members for a suggested donation of $10 with all proceeds going to the Hearts of Hope Project as part of the 50 Hearts of Hope Drive. I’ll also direct all proceeds from a music showcase featuring songs of hope. Then, in October, I’m planning a dinner fundraiser for the project in partnership with New York City’s African Restaurant Week.
There’s so many ways to turn your entrepreneurial goals into social endeavors that benefit a group in need for years to come. Doing so not only benefits our planet, but also helps to solidify your purpose and personal legacy.
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