Social Work and Social Entrepreneurship: An Opportunity for Synergy
Today’s world faces unprecedented complexities. Working on their own, government, business and nonprofits have a long way to go in solving these problems. Over the past few years, the nonprofit and for-profit sectors have become more alike and there has been an intersection in the power of the capital markets and human service programming to solve social problems. Social entrepreneurship is a “third way” which approaches social problems in this world. It combines the business acumen of for-profit companies with the social concerns of nonprofits (Schorr and Lynch, 2012). It is “entrepreneurial” as it is focused on profits and it is “social” as it attempts to eradicate global problems such as health care, financial access, gender empowerment, etc. Finally, social entrepreneurial organizations employ a “triple bottom line” in that they place equal priority on the social, financial and environmental concerns. According to the Social Enterprise Alliance (2003), there has been a significant increase in the use of commercial approaches by nonprofits, an increase of 600 per cent in the past 20 years.
This roundtable session will initiate a conversation about social entrepreneurship research and practice and discuss the potential for social work education in this emerging field. Presenters will discuss the various definitions of social enterprise, the various forms or typologies of social enterprise and the two schools of thought emerging from social entrepreneurial research. For example, the first presenter will provide participants with an overview of the basic definitions of social enterprise. Participants will distinguish the difference between a social enterprise and a community organization. In other words, while the social enterprise has the prime goal of achieving social aims they use the exchange of goods and services in the market to achieve these goals. This section of the roundtable will also provide an overview of the possibilities of social enterprise research and practice and how social enterprise addresses local and global challenges.
The second presenter will discuss the various forms of social enterprise. Therefore, the legal structures and variations of these social enterprise structures such as community development finance institutions, microenterprises, social bonds and community development investments will be explored (Doherty et al, 2009). Finally, presenters will discuss the two schools of thought in social enterprise, one being the social enterprise school of thought and the other being the social innovation school of thought (Dees & Battle Anderson, 2006). Therefore, in addition to acquiring a basic knowledge of social enterprise, the goal of the presentation is to generate a rich dialogue around how social work schools can contribute, shape and extend social enterprise research, theory and practice to solve local and global challenges.