Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Are you a social entrepreneur?

I took part in a social entrepreneur event in Uppsala some weeks ago by Ashoka Scandinavia and Reach for Change, the two organizations had partnered up with CEMUS and Drivhuset to organize it. Ashoka and Reach for Change are both organizations that work to help social entrepreneurs who have great ideas to change society for the better.  They help them financially and by including them in their existing networks. The main difference between the two is that Reach for Change focuses on ideas on how to improve children and youth’s lives while Ashoka has a wider range of different entrepreneurs they finance.

We also got to hear two entrepreneurs who had become a “Change Leader” and an “Ashoka fellow” and how it had affected their entrepreneurship. Dennis Lennartsson works with his company Spread the Sign which helps translating text to sign language: did you know that sign language is different, just as every other language, in different countries? I didn’t! His idea is to make sign language more available for everyone. Hanne Finstad works with Forskarfabriken in Norway, she realized that the natural sciences were given too little time in schools so she started evening courses and summer schools for kids to get them engaged and interested in these subjects.
One thing that came up during the event was that many people don’t even realize that they are social entrepreneurs until someone else points it out. So, what makes a social entrepreneur different to a normal one? The main difference is that a social entrepreneur identifies a problem in society and starts up a business for changing that. Often the social impact of the business is just as important as the financial side of the business and this is why a social entrepreneur is usually very engaged in his/hers business.

So do you identify yourself in the description above?
If you feel you can use some support for your social business check out Ashoka, which is a global network. Reach for Change works in Sweden, Russia and Africa at the moment. In Finland you can join the SYY (Suomen Yhteiskunnallisten Yrittäjien yhdistys ry) Network for social entrepreneurship and there is probably a range of more initiatives globally.

Most of all congrats! You're doing a great contribution to society!

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