Let’s hear it for our social entrepreneurs!

Let’s hear it for our social entrepreneurs!

Social entrepreneurship - the use of techniques by start-up companies and other entrepreneurs to develop, fund and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues.

I’ve always had a passion for championing social entrepreneurs of the future. Previously working as a lecturer at the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, which ‘brings the boardroom to the classroom’, I am keen to provide future generations of entrepreneurs with the skills and mind set they need to realise their ambitions and make a change within society.

 So I was thrilled to learn the UK is the third best country in the world in which to be a social entrepreneur. It seems our young people are seeing the huge possibilities brought about by change - social entrepreneurism is gaining momentum as we speak.

Research carried out by the Thomson Reuters Foundation has confirmed we live in a country where we should be establishing businesses with a social mission. And with three times more social entrepreneurs setting up than traditional SMEs, this is pretty good advice!

What’s more, our 70,000 social enterprises in Britain contribute £24 billion to the economy and employ more than a million people. So in a nutshell, social enterprise is where the action is in terms of new business formation in the UK.

Considering the number of social entrepreneurs is rising, it’s surprising that only one third of the British public know what a social enterprise is, often under the illusion they are small businesses run almost entirely by volunteers.

But if you’ve ever eaten at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, or indulgedin a slab of Divine chocolate, you’ve had a taste of a highly successful social enterprise. It’s not always a small business with small goals, it’s very often a successful venture with a mission to tackle issues such as homelessness (The Big Issue), or the global water crisis with Belu Water celebrating its 5-year partnership with Water Aid, donating over £1.5 million.

So let’s hope that our young generation will continue to see the advantages in allowing themselves to live their passion and embrace a career with meaning. Something that will keep them motivated and give today’s consumers what they really want. 

The proliferation of social enterprises is a trend that’s showing no sign of slowing. And for good reason.Generating their own income without having to rely on grants or public and private donations, social enterprises are often hailed as a more sustainable mechanism for social change. 

This means that when there’s a financial downturn and charities are feeling the pinch, social enterprises stand their ground. And if that’s not a good enough reason for our budding entrepreneurs to jump on the wagon and create a business that can work in everyone’s favour, I don’t know what is!

Until recent years, the development of enterprise and entrepreneurship was grossly neglected in this country. But now we are seeing the public and economic benefits of every social enterprise - it’s time to support our social entrepreneurs and give them the recognition they deserve.

Author: Neil Copping, General Manager at Awards International.