Social entrepreneurship is a term that has gained a lot of interest in recent years, and more and more people and companies see themselves as social entrepreneurs. Environments have emerged that bring these together, and we see an ever-increasing supply of investors who want to invest in such companies. But what exactly is social entrepreneurship?
A social entrepreneur is one or more people who want to contribute to creating a new solution to a social problem.
A social entrepreneur can invent a new technological solution or develop a service that helps with the problem - often better than before.
Close to the target group
Sometimes these innovative people are employed in the public sector, so-called intrapreneurs. They often work with vulnerable target groups, see unsolved problems and create new solutions in their own organization or company. Occasionally they find that the workplace does not want to change and that they have to bring the solution outside the organisation. Then most people will have to create their own income to be able to live off the solution, and establish a company that sells the technology or services to those who need it.
Other times, these new solutions are created by people who themselves have experience with an unsolved social problem. They then choose to start their own company in search of better solutions for the target group. Often they will develop their solutions in good dialogue with the target group.
Double bottom line
If this company is primarily concerned with solving the relevant societal problem, we call them social entrepreneurs. The company then has to manage the difficult balance between achieving the social ambition they have, and thinking about business operations to make their company survive and grow. We say they operate with a "double bottom line", which means they create both social and economic results.
The challenge for social entrepreneurs is often that the people they are trying to help do not have the ability to pay for the services or technology they need. Then you have to find others who are interested in solving the same problem, who can pay for the services or technology to be delivered. In Norway, we have such a well-developed welfare society that most people who have social challenges are in contact with one or more of the "help systems". The challenge will then be to convince them that this is a better solution that they should invest in, adopt or convey to their "users".