Changing the world through social entrepreneurship: facilitating the emergence of the social business company

Imagination for People is a web platform supporting social entrepreneurship and social business companies. To better understand the core of our mission, we will attempt to better define the field of social entrepreneurship as well as the nature of a social business company.

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

The definition for Social entrepreneurship varies almost as much as the number of social businesses there are out there. Nonetheless here are a few key concepts. In its broadest definition, social entrepreneurship is located in the space between traditional businesses and non-profit organizations. A social entrepreneur will seek to apply business principles to their venture, with the social mission remaining central to the social business company they aim to create.

Does a social business company function the same way as a regular business?

As we mentioned, a social business company will use business principles and apply them to organize and execute their social mission. This translate to various kinds of business model. The type of business model here isn’t quite as important as its existence. At Imagination for People (we consider ourselves to be a social business helping other social business companies), we chose a hybrid business model, where the non-profit entity which runs the platform also operates a for-profit entity from which it gets most of its financing. The for-profit and non-profit entities are part of a unique strategy and share the common goal of advancing the state of social entrepreneurship worldwide, albeit in different ways. Other popular business models for a social business company include the «design for extreme affordability» model. Imagination for People is currently working on a business model template designed specifically to help you define your social business company’s business model.

Why choose social entrepreneurship?

If you believe that individuals, governments and private enterprises have a the responsibility to ensure the collective well-being of humans then you should consider social enterprise. Starting a social business company is a way (albeit not the only) to solve some of the world’s social or environmental issues. Choosing social entrepreneurship is making the decision that profit is not all what a business should aim for. It’s about saying that making money and contributing to social good do not need to oppose each other, but rather can work together to have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. It’s about refusing to maintain the status quo and deciding to use innovation and creativity towards building something positive.

By choosing the world of social enterprise you don’t negate the importance of traditional non-profit organizations. Rather, you are acknowledging that a social business company can sometimes address social issues more efficiently than a traditional non-profit organization. You should consider social enterprise because you believe that businesses should be agents of good and should move away from the more simplistic one-sided models they have adopted in the last few decades.

Where does Imagination for People come in? And most importantly, how can you help?

We wish every entrepreneur could be a social entrepreneur and every business could become a social business company. We aim at fostering a climate which will allow social entrepreneurship to thrive, worldwide. While we acknowledge that non-profit organizations will always be needed, we believe that in many cases, having a revenue model will allow organizations to gain more independence from donors. Our vision is that a social business company shall be able to properly address social needs in every field imaginable.

To do this, we’re building a platform to support social entrepreneurship projects all over the world. Because starting a social business company is much harder than it is to start a traditional company, we want to create the tools that will allow for these projects to succeed. But the platform we develop would be nothing without people like you, who are interested in social entrepreneurship and want to make a positive social impact. Here are a few ways you can support social business projects and be part of the Imagination for People adventure:

  • Support projects needs. Social entrepreneurship projects on the Imagination for People platform can express their needs, whether it is for short-term or project-based volunteers, longer volunteering support, equipment needs, specific expertise and so on. You can put any resources you have, whether big or small towards a social business company you support. Click here to find out which projects need your help.
  • Join a workgroup. Amongst all of the theme or region-based groups hosted on the Imagination for People platform, a few of them seek to solve problems commonly faced by social entrepreneurship projects or to advance the state of knowledge in this specific field. Don’t hesitate to join, contribute and share your points of view.
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