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E27: Learning More About The Social Entrepreneurship Movement

by Sean Boyce

What is the social entrepreneurship movement all about?

What I talk about on this episode:
  • What social entrepreneurship is all about
  • Why it has become a movement
  • How to define social entrepreneurship
  • Why this should get you excited for the future
  • The importance of being passionate about your work
  • How to leverage the movement at your organization
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Episode Transcript

Hey everyone, Sean here and today what I want to talk to you about is social entrepreneurship, namely what it is because it’s becoming more and more popular, which is very exciting. 

So if I go to and find some form of a definition for social entrepreneurship what I find is generally something that tries to describe it from the perspective of entrepreneurs that want to build solutions to social issues, which has obviously a lot of overlap with the impact world with the work that nonprofits do. But some of these entities I believe, are also still private companies, but the focus of those companies is to drive change and positive impact as it pertains to social issues, which makes me very excited. It’s a very exciting prospect and makes me encouraged and excited for the future as well too. 

I believe at the core of social entrepreneurship is really wanting to make a greater impact, which is obviously a great fit to talk about on this show. And despite the kind of textbook definition that I provided for you, the best way that I think I’ve understood this as a movement is hearing about a description from an entrepreneur in terms of what they wanted to do as part of their mission and part of their vision. And the description that they gave, essentially said that they didn’t just want to build a company to make money. They wanted to build something that made a difference and I think that’s a really key distinction and an exciting vision as well too for a company. 

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You don’t just need to be successful in business through generating as much money as possible, right, your mission and your vision matters. Very much so and there’s absolutely no reason why your mission and vision cannot overlap or be directly focused on delivering impact through social issues. That’s why I’m so excited about this concept of social entrepreneurship. And I believe it fits pretty well in terms of what inspires me and how I’m focusing on what it is I’d like to do at my company NxtStep. 

I’ve worked with both for profit and nonprofit organizations, with the skills and expertise that I have, which is largely around technology and software. And when I’ve done that work in certain capacities, or simply just sold those services to the highest bidder an enable an organization that may already be wealthy, become even more wealthy, and that not really having any kind of a direct impact on what I would consider to be making the world a better place or in the worst case scenario we see examples of companies out there who are almost actively contributing to the opposite. In those instances, I couldn’t help but feel at a minimum complicit in terms of almost feeling like I’m contributing to something that I shouldn’t be. 

What matters more than anything is that it just didn’t really inspire me. It didn’t get me excited about what it was that I was driving progress for and that’s what encourages me and excites me so much about social entrepreneurship, is because now with the work that I’m doing, I’m focusing on how I can help organizations drive and scale impact and I believe that overlaps very well with this as a movement and so I wanted to share more about it because you’re probably hearing a lot more about it. It’s becoming more popular, more common, and I believe it’s gaining momentum as a movement, which is very exciting. 

What I would encourage you to do is to leverage this as a movement to do some experimentation at your own organization. Chances are the members of your organization, even if you are nonprofit, and even if your focus is already on impact, they want to do more innovation, they want to do more experimentation. So leverage this movement to be able to do it within your organization. I’ve heard this referred to previously as almost intrapreneurship where you think about how you can become more entrepreneurial how you can be more innovative, but do so within your own organization with the team you have.