Social entrepreneurship? Should be more than a trend


Normally, in the morning I read a few articles on social entrepreneurship. Best practice ideas, interesting people with a lot of out- of-the-box thinking from India, US, Europe, Africa. There are many impressive stories and a lot of really engaged social entrepreneurs around. Their stories are inspiring, eye-openers… Additionally, I read articles on social entrepreneurship conferences, innovation workshops and webinars, students involvement activities… It seems there is at least one event for each target group that wants to become social or even better a ‘social entrepreneur’ – day by day.
Good stuff, no doubt. The more people engage, the more we can change to good.

But sometimes, there is a small doubt if it is not too much ‘show’, and too less real social engagement. Sometimes, I feel that it is more a trend to be seen and positioned as a social entrepreneur than being a changemaker … just as if it is simply ‘en vogue’ to get social entrepreneurship prizes and awards, to participate in more and more competitions, to become one of the most recognized speakers at huge social entrepreneurship conferences (but recognized by whom? By the people in need?), to participate at all these camps around ‘being innovative, getting some lessons to become a social entrepreneur and – at the best – getting a prize at one of these events.

I found a very delicate part in this article ‘Lessons In Healthcare From 20,000 Feet: Bhutan’s Solution To Eye Care’ being a social entrepreneur’ that describes besides the interesting and engaging activity of a doctor also as follows:

“… Dr. Getshen is a part of the fashionably-termed group of “social entrepreneurs” – though he’s been improving eye care in the small Himalayan kingdom for the past 30 years, long before the term was coined. He’s an unusual example of a government-employed civil servant (medicine is socialized in Bhutan) who is keen to work with the right partners, not just dole in cash from any donor.
This is refreshing. The rage around social entrepreneurship has been growing exponentially. Up-and-coming entrepreneurs are readily receiving high-profile recognition for their “good works” from corporations (in the form of handsome grants) and from the media (in glossy features). The focus of these “do-gooders” may have drifted, though. The unglamorous process of toiling for years before finding solutions has been cut short by social enterprise bootcamps, single-term courses, and hackathons.

With all the buzz that is around – is there still enough space and time to focus on real change? Or does it rather lead to the side effect to do good in the most visible way for becoming a known person in this area?
Don’t get me wrong: It is fantastic if more people engage and if social thinking and doing becomes even higher rated than pure profit thinking. If there is a change in mindset. If there are conferences, workshops and other events taking place that help to make this thinking grow. There is so much in this world that needs change and can be done better – if more people take care.

But not every thing called social entrepreneurship, not every social entrepreneur-related event is ‘right’ – I feel. There is a kind of new profit thinking behind, of a thinking á la how to become a VIP in the field.
Maybe it is not even bad. I just have a feeling that it is not ok, somehow… Maybe I am wrong.

Related article:
Lessons In Healthcare From 20,000 Feet: Bhutan’s Solution To Eye Care

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