Social and solidarity entrepreneurship is an economic activity that aims to provide solutions to social and environmental expectations. It is an entrepreneurial form based on the general interest, nurturing a deep desire to change the world and which considers profit as a means and not an end.
Foundations of social entrepreneurship
The concept of social entrepreneurship emerged in the 1990s in the United States through the SEI (Social Enterprise Initiative). This organization, which sets up training and support projects for social entrepreneurs, will be followed in this momentum by other institutions (universities, foundations, etc.) which also give entrepreneurs a special interest.
The movement will continue in Europe through the habits of associations, but it is in the social economy that it will really take shape. It was in the uncomfortable economic situation in which Europe found itself that Italy in 1991 introduced legislation on social solidarity associations in order to provide solutions to the population’s expectations that would be little or not met by the civil service.
Very quickly, entrepreneurial projects of a social nature were set up almost everywhere in Europe, as well as support mechanisms such as support funds for social enterprises and the development of certain active areas such as the environment, local services and social integration.
Social and solidarity-based entrepreneurship will also develop in southern countries where it is considered an important incentive tool in the fight against poverty and social exclusion. In view of its approach, which is described as a non-profit activity, social entrepreneurship benefits from financial support from public authorities. But how does the concept of social entrepreneurship come about in practice and how does it work?
Social entrepreneurship: definition and principles
Grouping together economic enterprises whose activities, operating methods and organisation are based on the foundations of solidarity, morality and social service. The social and solidarity economy encourages the development of employment for social integration or reintegration with a view to increased solidarity.
With a liberal and participatory system of administration and decision-making, these structures place an emphasis on rigorous management and control of the funds obtained, which are reinvested for the benefit of the greatest number. As a result, self-interest does not exist in these organizations.
Note that social solidarity entrepreneurship is mainly practiced within organizations such as foundations, associations, cooperatives or mutuals. This form of entrepreneurship has a clear set of foundations that characterises it and guides its actions on a daily basis, the main principles of which are presented below.
The principles of social entrepreneurship
As major principles of social enterprise, you have its purpose. Whether it is environmental or social, it is concerned with well-being and collective satisfaction, reflected in various areas of social life. These include: access to housing and decent employment for all, access to energy, promotion of green growth and organic consumption. Some associations are even mainly focused on support services for the elderly.
Supervised financial resources. Here, the benefits of the actions carried out, are used in other social projects for ever more action towards the community. Contrary to traditional economic enterprises, social and solidarity enterprises are non-profit making. The pursuit of profit is therefore not their primary mission, but the well-being of society is the essential element in the pursuit of their objective.
Participatory management. All parties concerned are involved in governance. Indeed, the distribution of responsibilities and added value is done in a fair way and takes everyone into account. Now, here are some characteristics of social entrepreneurship.
Characteristics of social entrepreneurship
The major characteristics of social entrepreneurship as enunciated by some resources are: to realize and preserve social values and enable communities to benefit from them; to target new resource opportunities for the cause of this function; and to invest regularly in innovation and training of citizens.
Who is a social entrepreneur?
A social entrepreneur is any person at the head of an organisation with a long-term economic programme whose aim is to provide solutions to various social and environmental dissatisfactions. It is therefore the goal pursued by the social entrepreneur that makes all the difference compared to traditional entrepreneurs.
There is no legal recognition of the status of social entrepreneur in France. This makes this profession a liberal profession open to all. But the environmental or social purpose (i.e. to change the world) remains the priority criterion. However, the status of the company itself can be an identification criterion. But beware! Not all associations, cooperatives or other organisations are necessarily social enterprises.
The social entrepreneur is therefore the one who seeks to provide solutions to social problems by suggesting solutions other than the existing ones. But is it necessary to have a strong background to become a social entrepreneur?
The profession of social entrepreneur: read more
Social and solidarity-based entrepreneurship – recovery
There are many training schools that specialize in the field of social entrepreneurship. However, this is not essential to achieve this status. Indeed, what matters most is motivation and personal desire to fight a social difficulty.
For others, it is simply a matter of how easy it is for them to react when it is in the common interest. On the other hand, the frustration that others may face may also push them to act. These different reasons can therefore form the basis of a social project and make you a social entrepreneur.
But becoming a social entrepreneur is not enough. You need entrepreneurial skills such as perseverance, the ability to take up challenges, to gather around you. Also, the need for competence requires you to look for the skills that will be useful in your project.
Likewise, as an entrepreneur and especially in the social sector, you must know how to ask for support or guidance. This would be of great use to you because you will very often need support or resources to carry out your projects. You can even integrate structures that encourage growth in order to carry out your action successfully.
Social and solidarity-based entrepreneurship
Social and solidarity entrepreneurship is based on the satisfaction of one or more social or environmental needs for the collective well-being. It is a form of entrepreneurship that is non-profit and community-oriented. Regardless of their status, social enterprises all pursue the same goal: to change the world.