The first meeting of the Set4Change took place in Madrid, Spain and gathered together learners, trainers and partners from six different European countries (Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands and the UK). The topic of the workshop was Social Entrepreneurship and the purpose was to gather together experts in the field of Science, Engineering and Technology to discuss the possibilities for people in these fields to use their skills to advance social causes. Social Entrepreneurship is a fast growing sector of entrepreneurship that has a huge potential and demand for people with talent and skills to change the world. Read the articles in this section to find out the outcomes of the discussions of our little think tank!
What Is Social Entrepreneurship?
Now this may not be as straightforward as it sounds, as the term Social Entrepreneurship is an English word, so depending on your culture and language it is not always easy to understand this concept. Social Entrepreneurship is also something that has a longer history in Britain, so social and cultural factors which are not found in other cultures have influenced the creation of this term and it can therefore carry deeper social meanings in the English-speaking world, Britain in particular.
In the English-speaking world Social Entrepreneurship is connected to the value and social impact the enterprise can have, and not on the profits gained from trading or offering services. The main difference between an enterprise and a social enterprise is in how the business uses its profits. In very simple terms, a normal business would aim at maximising their profits and then divide them between the expansion needs of the business, their shareholders and the running costs of the business. A social enterprise on the other hand puts all the profits back into the business or community in order to be able to provide the services and products in the future as well. Shareholder interests are not the main concern for Social Entrepreneurs.
A great deal of discussion was necessary during the workshop to map out the extent of Social Entrepreneurship in Europe, and we found out that similar sectors do exist elsewhere in Europe, but they might be called something else and people may not necessarily associate them as being businesses. In Switzerland and the Netherlands for instance the term does not exist but organisations, NGOs and associations deal with many of the same issues that are in the sphere of social entrepreneurship in Britain. In other countries on the other hand, particularly in Portugal and Spain, Social Entrepreneurship can be associated with social work and charitable acts that have traditionally been associated with the activities of the Catholic church.
There is however huge growth potential in this sector, so how could we define social entrepreneurship in a way that it would appeal to the European-wide audience and attract more people to get involved and make a difference? Now take a moment to think what values you and your society hold important, what should be more prominently present in your surroundings, and how would you like to see things done and what you can do to change things. This is the first step to thinking about yourself and how you can contribute to social change.
Take a look at the rest of the articles on social entrepreneurship to see if you have what it takes!