Social Entrepreneurship – What is it?

Yesterday, we had the privilege to attend the 2011 Dell Social Innovation Competition, which partners with The University of Texas at Austin’s RGK Center in search of students with innovative ideas that solve a social or environmental problem anywhere in the world.

Taka Taka Solutions from London School of Economics won the grand prize of $50,000 in seed money to their social entrepreneurial business venture that provides waste management solutions to developing countries.   

In addition, Dell made a special announcement that they would provide UT with a $5 million grant to help grow the competition to be the world’s premier network for student social entrepreneurs. 

This seemed to be the key phrase for the evening – social entrepreneurship.  But what exactly is it?  And as Karen Love, our newest addition to the YourCause/Dell Make a Difference team asked “How do I get my kids to be those types of thinkers?”

To be a social entrepreneur you must think beyond money-making solutions.   You have to be innovative, ambitious, persistent and view problems as opportunities.  A social entrepreneur recognizes a social problem and uses a mix of technology, sustainability and entrepreneurial principles to create and manage a business solution that achieves social change in a globally competitive workforce. 

While business entrepreneurs typically measure success based on profit and return, a social entrepreneur goes a step further and views success as changing the world and creating social capital.  Social entrepreneurs turn their innovative ideas into actionable plans to change the lives of people in need.  As quoted throughout the Dell Social Innovation ceremony, “these people are rock stars.”

I think it’s fantastic that Dell contributed another $5 million toward this social entrepreneur competition and sector.  There is no reason why most business plans can’t, in return, help the greater good.  Ultimately, I know that the Dell Social Innovation Competition will continue to change the way students and society view, organizes and approaches social problems.      

-Lizette Romero

You can view the video below to view the Taka Taka Solutions business idea and how the seed money will be spent.


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