Why have so many people risked everything to undertake new ventures, when over half of all new businesses fail within five years? Until the late 20th Century, the answer was simple–the lure of riches and being your own boss. However, a new breed of social entrepreneur is combining societal and environment concerns with wealth creation. Today, more and more people are finding innovative ways to make capitalism work for them, their communities, and the environment.
Many social entrepreneurs still dream of making money and being their own bosses by forming traditional sole proprietorships or corporations, while others join together in nonprofit cooperatives. Nonetheless, they are all united by a single purpose—to improve the world, either through environmental or societal advances. Despite the altruistic goals, social entrepreneurs are just as driven and ambitious as conventional businesspeople to deliver groundbreaking solutions.
For example, social entrepreneurs build low cost shelters for the poor from recyclable materials, develop inexpensive solutions to widespread health problems, create water cleaning systems for drought-stricken areas, bring educational resources to remote regions, promote the arts to the underprivileged, and develop efficient means to transport freight and people over rugged terrain.
Social entrepreneurship success stories abound, such as Wendy Kopp, who launched, Teach for America, a highly successful movement to eliminate educational inequity in the nation by signing up the most promising college graduates to teach in low income communities. Since 1989, Teach for America has recruited, trained, and supported over 17,000 recent graduates in teaching for two years in economically depressed districts.
Mimi Silbert, founded Delancey Street, one of the foremost residential self-help organizations in the country, working with everyone from the illiterate and homeless to junkies and ex-convicts. Delancey Street equips those who have hit bottom with marketable skills in just six months. The organization is financially self-sufficient, with most of its funding coming from the businesses founded by Delancey Street graduates, such as moving companies, restaurants, and delivery services. health and social care