The Art of Social Entrepreneurship

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If you aren’t making a difference in other people’s lives, you shouldn’t be in business – it’s that simple

– Richard Branson, founder of the virgin group

Let’s just say you’re in a shoe room right now trying on different shoes. You are waiting in line to pay for what you chose and you go on thinking, what if for each pair each customer buys another person in need would get one? That is exactly the idea behind One for One business model implemented by TOMS. TOMS Shoes has provided over 86 million pairs of shoes to children since 2006. Just imagine what a simple idea could do! That is the power of social entrepreneurship.

So, now that I got your attention, what is social entrepreneurship?

In its simplest forms, it means creating a business to solve a certain social problem or cause.

Let’s get back to the shoe store, so you are still in line. You have the idea ready to be implemented, now what?

#1. Have a clear mission statement

You need to have a mission statement. You get to ask yourself what, who and how. What will I serve? Who would my service serve? How I want them to be served. In that case, your what will be giving away a pair of shoes for each new purchase. The who are people in need, who can’t afford to buy new shoes and your how is your business method to make sure those shoes reach the people in need the most.

#2. Widen your knowledge

Second step is research, you might find your idea already implemented in some place in the world. If so, then you have found a perfect model to study. Remember there are millions of restaurants all over the world all serving fast food! If your idea is already taken that doesn’t mean you can give it up. You need to know you’re your competitors are and how you can offer that different thing that makes your service unique. Research will help you know from where to start and what to take into consideration while you’re in your analysis mode for the project. After your research you found TOMS, you knew they have the same idea you are thinking of. So, what I can do different than them that will make my business tick? How did they introduce their idea and what kind of strategies they followed?

#3. Finalize your ideas and conceptualize

Now you have a good view of what could make a successful business model, you understand specifically what you want to do and you feel locked and loaded to finalize your idea. It’s conceptualization time. It is the phase where you know exactly what you will offer and what makes your offer one can’t refuse. It’s simply finalizing all the steps we talked about earlier, now you have your idea all good to go and can be represented.

#4. Look for a support

Represented to who? That is the forth step, find support. You did a whole presentation clarifying your idea, mission, vision and how your idea will make the sun rises from the west. However, you now have a problem; you can’t afford to buy the shoes you will start with. You barely had the money to stand in the line to buy your chosen one. That is the phase where you know you need financial support.

So, let’s imagine again you had that financial resource and you got 100 boxes of shoes for example, you will sell 50 and give 50 away, but what if you got 1000! You probably won’t know how to sell 500 and you don’t know other 500 people in need! That is where you search for guidance and mentorship, someone to support you in technicalities so that you would start from where others finished. It might be a friend, family member or someone you trust.

We all wished we have our own business, where we become the boss of ourselves. We always imagined we need to be millionaires to implement ideas or to start business. It needs more than that. It needs passion, persistence and belief to do all of the above points. Because remember, it’s not just about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen.

So Intern with AIESEC now and find that life changing opportunity!


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