Supporting Social Entrepreneurship – More Than Ever?

by Lena Katharina Kuhl, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany

“A little bit of good can turn into a whole lot of good if fueled by the commitment of a social entrepreneur.”

Jeffrey Skoll

We are in the center of a global pandemic crisis that is pushing people worldwide to their limits. We see and know about the threats of climate change and yet too little is being done about it. We have been shown by the presidential election in the United States how severe the social inequality has become in a world nation.  Social entrepreneurship seems to be more important than ever.

As Jeffrey Skoll highlights, the commitment and limited passion of a social entrepreneur can change our world. They step in when institutions fail, constantly thriving to solve social dysfunctions. But how can their mission be supported? What options do they have to grow their ventures and fulfill their vision of helping people?

One phenomenon is the social impact accelerator (SIA), which helps early-stage ventures grow by providing tailored support such as mentoring, networking, training and funding in a very intensive program. I questioned to what extent SIAs should be designed to sustain the ventures’ growth with the result that SIAs need to adapt certain aspects of accelerator programs to the distinctiveness of social entrepreneurs in order to provide beneficial support. When I researched on the respective topic, I increasingly sensed the importance for supporting social entrepreneurs. Why? Because we’re all responsible for protecting our earth, being part of something bigger, fighting global issues.Therefore, I want to motivate existing accelerators to focus on social ventures, but also encourage the establishment of new SIAs. During my research process several ideas about advantages for SIAs emerged. Social entrepreneurs face complex challenges and need to balance divergent stakeholder expectations and institutional pressures given the two logics incorporated in their ventures: creating social value while still gaining economic profit. Nevertheless, they remain persistent to overcome those strong tensions. This characteristic alone makes social entrepreneurs special and rare. Social entrepreneurs are highly motivated to make the world a better place. On the contrary, investors often face the challenge that the motivation of young founders is rather unclear, making the venture as well as the investment even more risky. Social ventures are risky as well, but the underlying motivation of social entrepreneurs is ready to hand which can be beneficial for SIAs. Additionally, the consciousness for solving social problems is raised in our society, especially for younger generations, given the high number of social media platforms that provide information and evolving movements such as “Fridays for Future”. Gaining knowledge about social ventures now might be even more promising and important in the future. SIAs could simultaneously participate in a growing market and play a crucial role for making the world a better place. Do you have the power and the opportunity to support social entrepreneurs in conquering those threats? Then don’t hesitate. It might be more important than ever.

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