Because social innovation is such a new field, terms are still being defined. At times terms are used interchangeably when in reality they have very different meanings. Academics and thought leaders are still hammering out final definitions, but in the interim a common language is beginning to emerge. In an on-going series, I’d like to explain and expand on different terms within the social innovation space. Today I will start with Social Entrepreneurship.
In their ground-breaking 2007 article, “Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition,” two leaders in the field, Roger L. Martin & Sally Osberg, define social entrepreneurs as having three necessary components:
(1) identifying a stable but inherently unjust equilibrium that causes the exclusion, marginalization, or suffering of a segment of humanity that lacks the financial means or political clout to achieve any transformative benefit on its own; (2) identifying an opportunity in this unjust equilibrium, developing a social value proposition, and bringing to bear inspiration, creativity, direct action, courage, and fortitude, thereby challenging the stable state’s hegemony; and (3) forging a new, stable equilibrium that releases trapped potential or alleviates the suffering of the targeted group, and through imitation and the creation of a stable ecosystem around the new equilibrium ensuring a better future for the targeted group and even society at large.
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