Sunday, July 25, 2010

Four Trends in Social Entrepreneurship

Because I work in the academic world but because I came out of the business one, I like to think in terms of customers....or who is my primary customer? For me, our students are the primary customers for the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship…and currently our students are thinking about social entrepreneurship in a big way. We see that in the business plans that get submitted for our Capstone Business Plan Class and Competition, and in the ideas that students come into my office to talk about. So it is with great interest that I read on Just Means, Marcia Stepanek’s summary of the report. Echoing Green is a New York-based social enterprise investment nonprofit.

* Many social entrepreneurs want to tackle the world's most difficult problems early in their career. About 55 percent, or slightly more than half, of some 1,200 semifinalists for Echoing Green fellowships in social entrepreneurship since 2007 have identified themselves as being younger than 35.

* Social entrepreneurs are blurring the lines between the nonprofit and for-profit experience and are often "serial entrepreneurs." There was a 15 percent decrease over 2008 in the number of Echoing Green semifinalists who have worked in the nonprofit and government sectors. Thirty-seven percent of the 300 semifinalists this year have founded another organization and 71 percent of those organizations are still in existence.

* Social entrepreneurs are on the forefront of the trend to build for-profit/nonprofit social enterprises. This year, more than 37 percent of the 300 Echoing Green semifinalists structured their new ventures as hybrid organizations -- nonprofit/for-profit enterprises aimed at simultaneously fulfilling public duties and developing commercial markets for their activities. That's up 20 percent over 2007. Meanwhile, also since 2007, the total number of semifinalists structuring their organizations as nonprofits decreased by nearly 20 percent.

* Many social entrepreneurs are compelled to create social enterprises because of their personal experiences. Almost 40 percent of Echoing Green semifinalists since 2007 identify themselves as members of the communities they plan to serve.

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