Social Innovation | Social Entrepreneurship
Welcome to the Social Innovation | Social Entrepreneurship section. This section will help you understand the fundamentals of Social Innovation | Social Entrepreneurship. This section is not intended to be exhaustive list about everything "social", but rather to give an overall view of what we see in the space.
We are open to suggestions and feedback!
While historically we believe in the existence of a trade-off between social progress and declining economic efficiency, Porter proves this assumption wrong. In this TED Talk, The Case for Letting Business Solve Social Problems, he will prove to us that not only businesses can make profit from solving problems but they can also reduce costs and increase efficiency.
"Solving a problem means making profit."
Michael PorterHarvard Business School Professor
What is Social Innovation?
"Social innovation is the process of developing and deploying effective solutions to challenging and often systemic social and environmental issues in support of social progress […] Solutions often require the active collaboration of constituents across government, business, and the nonprofit world"
(Clavier et. al., Stanford Centre for Social Innovation)
Inspired by natural ecosystems, the Canadian Social Innovation Generation group believes that a healthy system must be resilient and adaptable. As such, social innovation arises from acknowledging the world in all its complexity and can be understood as "an alignment of circumstances that make action possible" (SiG, 2017).
SiG defines social innovation as: "a process, product or program that profoundly changes the way a given system operates, changing it in such a way that reduces the vulnerability of the people and the environment in that system. As a consequence of a positive social innovation, a system grows more resilient" (SiG, 2014).
What is the Difference Between Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship?
The Medium page Social TrendSpotter (2018), featuring bite-sized insights into the social sector, provides a brilliant explanation of the differences between social innovation, social enterprise and social entrepreneurship. Social innovation is about creating ideas for change; social enterprise is about the business model (for-profit or non profit); finally, social entrepreneurship is all about the mindset.
In the article Social Innovation vs Social Enterprise (2014), Kayla Kurin states that "while a social entrepreneur is focused on solving a problem through business, a social innovator could be looking to solve the problem through a number of different mediums".
In one of its publications, the Stanford Social Innovation Review (2008) is being provocative by stating that social enterprises are lacking a full understanding of all the manifestations of social change. The article suggests there is cross-contamination between non profits, governments and businesses.
Types of Social Innovation
Generally speaking, social innovation can be categorised into three main groups, namely "product-based, process-based and socially transformative":
Bond, the UK network for international development organisations, worked with a group of 16 NGOs to define a framework identifying nine types of social innovation that can help you articulate exactly how your idea creates a positive impact.
Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd designed a systemic framework identifying ten types of social innovation: socio-juridical, socio-cultural, socio-political, socio-ideological, socio-ethical, socio-economic, socio-organisational, socio-technical, socio-ecological and socio-analytical. Initiatives within the social innovation sphere can include one or several of these typologies as one might lead or require another one to exist. (Wigboldus, S., 2016).
The Process of Social Innovation
The Open Book of Social Innovation (Murray et al., 2010) is a useful toolkit emerging from the collaboration between Nesta and The Young Foundation. The volume offers tools and methods used across various social innovation sectors - ranging from private to public - and provides insights into the process of social innovation:
- Prompts, inspirations and diagnoses: highlight the need for and inspiration behind innovation;
- Proposals and ideas: draw insights and generate ideas through creative methods;
- Prototyping and pilots: test and refine ideas;
- Sustaining: sharpen your idea by identifying ways of sustaining it in the longer term (e.g.: income streams);
- Scaling and diffusion: expand your idea (e.g.: ‘organisational growth, through licensing and franchising to federations and widespread dissemination’);
- Systemic change: the ultimate goal of social innovation - the creation of new frameworks or architectures made up of many smaller innovations (e.g.: new technologies, supply chains, institutional forms, skills, and regulatory and fiscal frameworks).
In the article by The Stanford Review, The Five Stages of Social Innovation at Scale (McLeod Grant, 2013) we are offered a strategy to help mature organisations increase their social impact:
- Diagnose the organisation or network holistically.
- Identify a new vision and strategy for impact.
- Realign the organisation around the strategy.
- Design a system-wide change process.
- Lead, communicate, and engage.
Different Types of Social Enterprise
Social enterprises also use innovation in their own business models. You’ll find below 6 common ways a social enterprise can be organised - it doesn't have to be 100% non-profit or 100% for-profit.
The term “social enterprise” can mean many different things. Where on the spectrum does your favorite one fall? Find out more in this article "There Are Actually Six Types of Social Enterprise" from Conscious Company Media.
Measuring and Managing Impact
For any social purpose organisation, making an impact is the holy grail, but how can this be done without having the tools to measure and manage impact? Below, we’ve selected the most common methodologies used in the sector:
Theory of Change
A theory of change defines all the building blocks required to bring about a given long-term goal. This set of connected building blocks is depicted on a map known as a pathway of change or change framework, which is a graphic representation of the change process (Source: EVPA) . For example:
Impact Measurement and Management
- Making sense of social impact metrics and measurements, Naki B. Mendoza in Devex (social innovation media platform).
- EVPA: Measuring and Managing Impact, A Practical Guide and Short Guide - a practical guide on how to implement impact measurement in five easy-to-understand steps, at the level of both the social investors and their investees.
- Sopact Impact Cloud is a theory of change driven platform that allows funders, mission-driven organisations, and sustainable organisations to easily measure and manage their social and environmental impact.
- The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
- How to decide what social impact to measure in your social enterprise, Kathryn Luckock (LinkedIn Article).
We've selected social enterprises, videos, newsletters, movies, books and social entrepreneurs that inspired us over the years. We hope you will feel inspired too!
Social Innovation: Innovative Business Models Creating Social Change
Examples of Businesses Making Significant Impact
Movies to Watch
- Demain (Tomorrow)
Filmmakers Mélanie Laurent and Cyril Dion travel worldwide to investigate concrete solutions to environmental and social challenges.
- Before the Flood
Presented by National Geographic, the documentary features Leonardo DiCaprio on a journey as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, travelling to five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change first hand.
- The True Cost
The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider: who really pays the price for our clothing?
- Real Value
Real Value is an award-winning economics documentary that delivers a refreshing meditation on how business can be used to create value beyond profit. The film serves as inspiration for any business owner, entrepreneur, or customer who is looking to better understand what happens when a business puts people, planet, and profit on an equal footing.
Newsletters and Blogs
- Invest With Values: The Investors Gateway to Positive Change, a free educational resource for local banking, community investing, impact investing, and socially responsible investing.
- Cause Artist: The Social Enterprise Lifestyle Magazine. Submit and discover brands, startups, and social entrepreneurs impacting the world through social enterprise.
- Future Economy Network: The hub of unforgettable events, bespoke communication & marketing support and good news stories for the sustainable business sector.
- ImpactAlpha is redefining business media around social and environmental value, just as impact investing is redefining finance.
- Stanford Social Innovation Review is a magazine and website that covers cross-sector solutions to global problems. SSIR is written for and by social change leaders in the nonprofit, business, and government sectors who view collaboration as key to solving environmental, social, and economic justice issues.
- TIIME Blog: The TIIME blog contains articles discussing key issues in Sustainability and Impact.
Social Entrepreneurs: The Mindset to Bring Bold and Creative Solutions to Create Social Change
There are many examples of social entrepreneurs that have brought their innovative ideas to life. Rainer Höll from Ashoka takes us through some of his favourites in this TED talk.
Rainer’s presentation features the following social entrepreneurs:
- Henri Dunant: founder of the Red Cross
- Miguel Luengo-Oroz: speeding up malaria detection with a mobile app game
- Sakena Yacoobi: Afghan Institute of Learning founder
- Servane Mouazan: the CEO of Ogunte, an organisation that helps female social entrepreneurs bring about a positive change in people’s lives
- Arnaud Raskin: working with street children as a school and to train corporates
- Audrey Cheng: Moringa School, software development education in Kenya
- Frank Hoffmann: training blind women to detect breast cancer
- Brit Gilmore: The Giving Keys, an organisation that employs poor people to make necklaces from engraved keys offering employment to the homeless
- Raul Krauthausen: Wheel Map founder, used to rate wheelchair accessibility of buildings and businesses
- Ursala Sladek: pinoneer of the community green energy movement
- Albina Ruiz: tackling garbage with collection microbusinesses
- Pradip Sarmah: founder of a rickshaw bike bank allowing leasing to ownership
- Mohammed Yunus: founder of the Grameen bank and microfinance industry pioneer
- Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley: kiva microlending platform founders
- Jimmy Wales: Wikipedia co-founder
Having an innovative idea is only the start! Lluis Pareras, a venture capital investor, explains why he rejects 98% of business plans and and shares 5 things that successful social entrepreneurs have in common.
Books to Read
- Building Social Business - Mohammad Yunus
- The Business of Changing the World - Raj Kumar
- Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship - Teresa Chahine
- Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation: International Case Studies and Practice - Ken Banks
- Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works - Roger L. Martin
- Social Entrepreneurship For Dummies - Mark B. Durieux
- The Business of Good: Social Entrepreneurship and the New Bottom Line - Jason Haber
- Social Entrepreneurship - Constant Beugré
- Lean Startups for Social Change - Michel Gelobter
- Start Something That Matters - Blake Mycoskie (Founder of TOMS)
- The Accidental Social Entrepreneur - Grant Smith
- LEGACY - The Sustainable Development Goals in Action by 52 Changemakers
- Social Enterprise in Anytown - John Pearce
- The Unfinished Social Entrepreneur - Jonathan Lewis
- Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility - Patty McCord
- Brand the Change - The Branding Guide for social entrepreneurs, disruptors, not-for-profits and corporate troublemakers - Anne Miltenburg
TED Talks to Watch
- How to be a social entrepreneur - Andy Stoll
- How to create a successful social enterprise - Marquis Cabrera
- Changing the world through social entrepreneurship - Willemijn Verloop
- Social Innovation in Business - Tatjana Brkic
- Researcher and professor Tatjana Brkic, discusses the role of SMEs in addressing social challenges. In her research, she identified 3 main criteria to define a business as social innovative and discovered that the worldwide network of social enterprises is greater than we thought.
- Social Innovation In the Real World - From Silos To Systems - Indy Johar
- Institution designer Indy Johar defines the social innovation challenge as a "dark matter problem" or one that revolves within the institutional infrastructure. Going beyond product/service innovation, Johar invites us to consider the opportunities that systems innovations, those happening within the policymaking sphere, can bring to the creation of a multi-stakeholder and sustainable future.
Social Innovation as a Trigger for Transformations - The Role of Research (European Commission, Sept 2017). This Policy Paper examines the role of Social Innovation in Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) research: from history, approaches to opportunities and implementation.
Social Entreneurship Resources
- The Guide to the Seven Key Questions That All Social Entrepreneurs Should Ask Themselves to Have a Clearer Idea, Develop their Project and Maximise their Impact (Ashoka)
- Collaborative Entrepreneurship: How Social Entrepreneurs Have Learned to Tip the World by Working in Global Teams (Ashoka)
- “Scaling the impact of the social enterprise sector” Report (McKinsey)
- “Start Your Social Enterprise” Guide (Social Enterprise UK)
Measuring and Managing Impact Resources
- Metrics: A framework for social impact strategies, measurement and demonstration (Sopact)
- Social Impact Assessment: A comprehensive guide for effective tools, methods and resources that work (Sopact)
- Measuring and managing impact - A practical guide (EVPA)
- SDG Compass: it provides guidance for companies on how they can align their strategies as well as measure and manage their contribution to the realisation of the SDGs (SDG Compass)
- Expert Impact is an organisation specifically for introducing social entrepreneurs to mentors. for free mentoring and advice.
- UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, also offer a mentoring service to social enterprises they award grants to. And of course, many of the programmes that we run include helping you to find a mentor too.
- Membership body Social Enterprise UK has a dedicated events section on its website.
- Pioneers Post is a social enterprise magazine with a newsletter you can sign up to that often lists sector meetups.
- Business incubators and accelerators often match enterprises with mentors too.
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