The dynamic field of social entrepreneurship is a vital component in the overall realization of a brighter future for all of us. A business start-up model that uses innovative perspectives and ideas to solve pressing social issues, social entrepreneurship is about finding new and creative ways to tackle the world’s most challenging problems.
Both CAS and the broader IB curriculum emphasize Service Learning’s value and provide various avenues for interaction with initiatives like the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other global programs. This framework is intended to give students the real-world experience they need to understand how and why social issues arise and provides them with tools to think critically and implement solutions.
As the student output at our Virtual CAS Conferences and Changemakers Challenge can attest to, young people are ready to rise to the challenge. They are eager to make their voices heard on complex topics and offer real solutions.
Many of these students will go on to become independent social entrepreneurs in their own right, and to enact their visions for social justice— they will need to be equipped with particular robust skills. Here are some of the standout characteristics of today’s most impactful social entrepreneurs.
Ability to recognize unjust social issues
Identifying a problem that needs addressing is the first step for any aspiring social entrepreneur. Those who end up making an impact in their field can spot unjust social circumstances that exclude or marginalize a portion of humanity.
This often involves introducing a fresh perspective on a seemingly stable situation that has been overlooked, taken for granted, or normalized. A true social entrepreneur is not afraid to go against the grain and draw attention to underlying social, economic, or political injustices.
Willingness to inspire change through participation
To become social entrepreneurs, students must look at the skillset they have and find a relevant way to apply it to the challenge at hand. Their exposure to these opportunities at a young age is vital, as classrooms offer the perfect forum for critical thinking and experimentation that can lead to innovative solutions that target the root of society’s foremost issues. Social entrepreneurs are able to carve out a space to lead their own initiatives, build teams to address issues they care about, and activate their peers.
Cognitive-based empathy is a critical skill for social entrepreneurs and will allow them to stay committed to their endeavors. After all, most social entrepreneurs are ultimately driven by a deep commitment to social justice. Social entrepreneurs are willing and able to commit time and energy towards fighting for communities facing political and social instability and inequality.
To develop powerful solutions to address injustice, social entrepreneurs must look at a problem through a different lens and think outside the box. Identifying the right moment to take action is a great challenge that requires a talent for creativity and a willingness to reflect on one’s instincts. Social entrepreneurs are innovative thinkers by nature and tend to have cultivated this ability to see what others cannot.
Aptitude for building strong working relationships
No social entrepreneur operates alone. The most profound changes are realized when others are invited to join the effort, and a strong team is established. Influential social entrepreneurs are prepared to be leaders and mentors, in addition to demonstrating an openness to learn from those around them.