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6 Things Remarkably Effective Social Entrepreneurs Do

Most people think about the world’s shortcomings – pollution, poverty, slave labour, drug trafficking, lack of healthcare, inadequate education, racism, abuse – and so many more. Few people challenge these status quos to create sustainable change. Even fewer people do it while using a for-profit business model.

Social entrepreneurs come from all walks of life. They’re the rule-busters, the over-throwers of convention. There are, however, some behaviours that effective social entrepreneurs have in common.

They Build a Stellar Team

Successful social entrepreneurs recruit the best mentors, collaborators and partners from both the business and social communities. They invite feedback and ideas. They deprioritise their egos while leveraging the talent and resources around them. They appreciate those who support their efforts and are excited about sharing credit for their success.

A great example of this is the inspirational James Stewart, who has put together an exceptional team of highly skilled individuals to help him develop – an app that merges best practice behaviour change with peer support to help smokers to kick the habit together.

They Keep Moving

An effective social entrepreneur pursues goals like a point guard on a basketball court. He or she knows when to dribble through, pivot, track back or pass the ball to keep things progressing toward their goals. Each challenge becomes a goal, be it a need for added capital or a way to approach a hindering policy.

They Have a Head for Business and They Know How to Sell

Effective social entrepreneurs understand the basic tenets of business, accounting, records management, marketing and scale-ability and can apply these to a social enterprise. While they don’t solely rely on it, they market positive social and environmental change as an intrinsic part of their value proposition. They sell unconventional thinking and ideas. They know how to communicate these effectively to customers, communities, support systems and investors.

Ariel Hersh, co-founder at Fruit2work, is passionate about seeing businesses solve today’s social issues. Fruit2work is a social enterprise that creates second chance jobs for former offenders by selling fruit boxes to corporate customers such as Toll and Accenture. Ariel’s ability to combine a commercial head and social heart saw Fruit2work selected as a Finalist in the Social Enterprise Awards ‘One to Watch’ category.

They Immerse Themselves in the Communities Where They Wish to Affect Change

Effective social entrepreneurs learn first-hand about the people, the environment, the politics and the obstacles in which they operate. They believe in the community’s potential to partake in solutions and to both sustain and propagate them. They leverage all available resources – technological, social, and natural.

Founded by former Myer Innovation Fellow, Jordan O’Reilly, Hireup is the next iteration of his personal quest to bring positive change to the lives of Australians with disability. In 2011 he co-founded the nonprofit Fighting Chance with his sister, Laura, which works to deliver brighter futures to young adults with disability. The personal impetus and inspiration for both organisations was Jordan’s younger brother, Shane, who lived with cerebral palsy. Finding new ways to increase the independence, inclusion and participation of people with disability in the community has been Jordan’s life work. Today, Hireup has provided almost 150,000 hours of disability support and saved users over $1.3 million.

They Dream Hard and Work Harder

From Gandhi to Roosevelt to Mother Teresa, passion pervades everything they seek to accomplish.

After spending three years in Colombia to understand international/community development at a grass roots level. Margaret O’Brien partnered with a local Foundation to set up 3 libraries and literacy programs in a 12-month period that provided (and still provide) classes to over 150 kids. With a belief that you’re never too young to learn how to make a difference, and recognising that there was a gap in the Australian education system, Margaret has leveraged her experience to co-found Young Change Agents – a social enterprise dedicated to empowering youth and helping them see problems as opportunities. Through face-to-face programs (and soon to be launched online learning and communication platform), Margaret is relentless in her work to empower young people to meaningfully engage in initiatives that they create – helping them take control over their own futures and have an impact on their community’s long-term well-being.

They Love Rollercoasters

Perhaps not literally, but they thrive on the excitement of the ups and downs of the start-up journey. So, hold on to your seat. Keep moving. Keep doing.

Social Change Central
Social Change Central

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