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Rethinking social entrepreneurship: A sociological perspective Rejoice Shumba University of Johannesburg.

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Presentation on theme: "Rethinking social entrepreneurship: A sociological perspective Rejoice Shumba University of Johannesburg."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rethinking social entrepreneurship: A sociological perspective Rejoice Shumba University of Johannesburg

2 About the study  The study begins with an analysis of academic literature on social entrepreneurship in which the original meaning of social entrepreneurship is examined in conjunction with the original meaning of entrepreneurship. The dominant opinions on social entrepreneurship put emphasis on earned income, enterprises and individual will and determination. In is argued that these factors, although important are not central to the notion of social entrepreneurship. Core to social entrepreneurship are system- changing and pattern-breaking innovative ideas that make life better for marginalised groups in society.

3 About the study  The first part of the research was an exploration of how key role players in the social entrepreneurship space in South Africa; academics, foundations, fellowship organisations, government and social entrepreneurs, define social entrepreneurship. Similar to other countries, the hegemony on social entrepreneurship has made people understand social entrepreneurship in terms of enterprises, earned income, individual will and determination. The discourse on social entrepreneurship in South Africa is shaped by business school ideology.

4 The social entrepreneurship space Growing interest in social entrepreneurship in South Africa evidenced by:  Increasing number of recognised social entrepreneurs eg number of Ashoka Fellows in South Africa  Increasing number of courses on social entrepreneurship  Increasing number of centres on social entrepreneurship  Increasing number of academic output on social entrepreneurship (though still very little)

5 The social entrepreneurship space: Academics  Susan Steinman  Boris urban  Thumbadoo and Wilson  Crispen Karanda and Nuria Toledano  Rejoice Shumba (forthcoming)  ????????

6 The Social Entrepreneurship Space: Fellowship Organisations  Ashoka  Unltd South Africa  Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs  Spark

7 The social entrepreneurship space: Networks for social entrepreneurs  Gibbs Network  ASEN

8 The social entrepreneurship space: Centres on social entrepreneurship  Centre for social entrepreneurship and social economy

9 Courses on social entrepreneurship  Gibbs: social entrepreneurship certificate programme  In 2007, the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship Programme implemented a short course for the fellows which focused on social entrepreneurship and ethical business. The result of the course is that a number of the fellows went on to start social enterprises. (Sloan, 2013).  The Connect-123 semester long social entrepreneurship programme at UCT provides hands on experiences of challenges of social entrepreneurship. The course gives undergraduate students insight into the power of social enterprise (Connect 123).  Hand in Hand International held a 5 day interactive course showcasing the role of social entrepreneurs in reducing poverty. This was the first time that the course was held in South Africa (Hand in hand International).

10 Prevailing definitions of social entrepreneurship in South Africa

11 Defining Social Entrepreneurship: Quote from interviews  “Originally, when the project started, it didn’t have a clear definition, so there was no real ILO definition….so when I started looking for what kind of hooks, what can use as references to develop an ILO approach and what should the ILO approach look like, I found a quote from a report of the Director General that referred to social entrepreneurship and defined social entrepreneurs as people who create market based solutions to social problems. So that became a useful hook at least as an entry point for a discussion on concepts and definitions.”

12 Defining Social Entrepreneurship: Quote from interviews  Then through the project, through the dialogues and the practical staff we did on the ground, we then came up with a more specific approach that basically looked at a number of defining characteristics and we tended to focus a little more on the social enterprise…because when you talk about social entrepreneurship, it is very much vague and it means different things to different people

13 Defining Social Entrepreneurship: Quote from interviews  We take a different approach from that which says sustainability is about being independently sustainable, we have tended to adopt an approach which is common in the UK which used as a benchmark 50% of income is earned, recognising that the earned income can still be from government, it is difficult to tell sometimes what is earned income, what’s contract but in principle that seems to be a useful indicator of a sustainable financial model.

14 Defining Social Entrepreneurship: Quote from interviews  For it to qualify for one of the awards, it has to have earned income

15 Defining Social Entrepreneurship: Quote from interviews  If there is no earned income, I would not call it social entrepreneurship

16 Defining Social Entrepreneurship: Quote from interviews  The ILO definition is very different from say the approach of Ashoka and there are many instances when that vagueness is useful, so we tended to focus more on what is social enterprise and that really comes from the ILO’s work which is focused on the enterprise development angle

17 Defining Social Entrepreneurship: Quote from interviews  So the big issue here is that we are facing a cross roads moment where social business became a big buzz word in South Africa, and it is on everyone’s lips, In a way, people think that it is a substitute for social entrepreneurship in the sense that I can develop my NGO as a social business because I sell something for a service that will generate the funds that I will reinvest into my social NGO so it is a for profit but my profits go into the NGO so it’s a business but its purpose is social.

18 Defining Social Entrepreneurship: Quote from interviews  Our challenge is that people in South Africa are using Social Enterprise, Social Business and social entrepreneurship interchangeably and they take it to mean one and the same thing.

19 Defining Social Entrepreneurship: Quote from interviews  Social enterprise is just another model of trying to generate that financial sustainability of the idea, but if you don’t have financial sustainability of the idea, then you are just going to be running your community bakeries all over the place, is that the systemic change we want to see, everyone opening a community bakery and we call it social entrepreneurship, that’s a huge mistake, that’s not it,

20 Defining Social Entrepreneurship: Quote from interviews  but we have to stand up and say, that’s not the kind of idea that we will support because that is you just responsing to a difficult moment where you don’t have funds and your ideas are struggling to be sustainable and you just came up with this buzz word where you generate profit for products and services, you call your self a social business without necessarily equalising the sustainability of your idea. We are seeing that in Brazil but in a mild way, it sounds as if it is too heated up down here

21 Defining Social Entrepreneurship  The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), 2009, had a special focus on social entrepreneurship. This was the first global study on social entrepreneurship that South Africa participated in (Notten :2010). Reporting on the findings of the findings of the GEM, Notten (2010) defines social entrepreneurs as small businesses that employ business principles and operate as for profit organisations but with an explicit agenda for social good. Notten (2010) also defines social entrepreneurs as ‘businesses that operate for the social good’ Notten’s

22 Ashoka definition  The definition of Ashoka is based on the concept of a new idea. It has to be a new solution to a problem, not a solution that solves the symptoms but solves the causes of the problem, the underlying causes of the problem, in defining the innovation, we start by defining the problem, we then separate the problem in terms of structural problem or systemic problem

23 Ashoka definition  we are focused on those kinds of ideas that are able to change a problem in a way that charity will no longer be necessary, so for example, instead of giving people food, how do you create societies where they can produce food themselves they are long lasting solutions, they don’t just respond to an immediate need.

24 Towards a sociological understanding of social entrepreneurship So, what do I mean by a sociological perspective to the study of social entrepreneurship? Vasi (2007:168) provides good guidance on the sociological approach to social entrepreneurship. He explains that Firstly, this is an approach that realises that social entrepreneurs face considerable resistance to social change and aims to identify the social conditions that are conducive to social entrepreneurship. Secondly, a sociological perspective can overcome the implicit bias in studies that consider social entrepreneurship to be simply a new form of business entrepreneurship ‘with a conscience’ and thirdly, a sociological perspective can recognise that social entrepreneurs sometimes fail and this avoid the common mistake of selecting only successful entrepreneurs. (Vasi 2007:168).

25 Towards a sociological understanding of social entrepreneurship  Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka, a social venture philanthropic organisation is widely credited with coining the term social entrepreneur in the late 1980s., However, it was Gregory, J. Dees who first envisioned social entrepreneurship as a profession and as a field of study in the late 1990s (Kickul and Lyons (2012:13). There have been numerous attempts to define social entrepreneurship after Drayton and Dees, however, since these two ‘founded’ the field of social entrepreneurship, it is worthwhile to start by discussing their ‘original’ meaning of the concept.  Drayton (2006: 45) exemplifies the people that qualify as social entrepreneurs in the following manner:  Florence Nightingale transformed public health, nursing, housing codes, even the use of statistics in public discourse. She was at least as powerful an entrepreneur as Andrew Carnegie. Today’s Nightingales include….Jeroo Billimoria, whose Childline free telephone hotline for and staffed by street children has swept India and is now spreading globally.

26 No earned income!  The Ashoka website gives the following examples of social entrepreneurs. These are system changers who realised that a part of society was ‘stuck’ and sought ways of getting it ‘unstuck’  Susan B. Anthony (US) : Fought for Women’s Rights in the United States, including the right to control property and helped spearhead adoption of the 19 th amendment.  Vinoba Bhave (India): Founder and leader of the Land Gift Movement, he caused the redistribution of more that 7, 000 000 acres of land to aid India’s untouchables and landless.  Dr Maria Montessori (Italy): Developed the Montessori approach to early childhood education  Florence Nightingale (UK)Founder of modern nursing, she established the first school of nurses and fought to improve hospital conditions  John Muir (US) Naturalist and conversationalist, he established the National Park System and helped found the Sierra Club  Jean Monnet (France): Responsible for the reconstruction of the French economy following World War 2, including the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The ECSC and the European Common Market were direct precursors of the European Union

27 No market oriented strategy  Bornstein (2007:3) in his book “How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas” which is highly esteemed as a ‘bible’ in social entrepreneurship adds St Francis of Assis, founder of the Franciscan Order and explains that he would have qualified as a social entrepreneur because he built multiple organisations that advanced pattern changes in his field. The Skoll Foundation includes among its exemplary social entrepreneurs Maria Montessori and Jane Addams, both of whom revolutionised social service provision in various sectors without necessarily adopting a market oriented strategy

28 Concluding Remarks  Hegemony that shapes our understanding of social entrepreneurship  The motive? Agenda?  Development of social entrepreneurship in South Africa – recognising pattern breaking and system changing ideas that change people’s lives


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