Getting Started as a Social Entrepreneur
You’ve heard of social entrepreneurship, it sounds interesting, and you’d like to know more.
- Look over a couple of the good introductions to the field. David Bornstein is the author who put it on the map. His latest book, Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford 2010), is a great place to start. He’s also written a classic book profiling a dozen or so social entrepreneurs, How to Change the World (Oxford, 2007).
- Several other books are full of interesting stories and short case studies about people following this path. Wilford Welch focuses on those involved in international settings: The Tactics of Hope: How Social Entrepreneurs Are Changing the World (Earth Aware, 2008). John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan’s: The Power of Unreasonable People (Harvard Business School Press, 2008) provides a conceptual roadmap illustrated with many examples.
- Pick a favorite social entrepreneur. Google her or him. Look for books by or about these pioneers. There are several highlighting Noble Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. Ben & Jerry's: The Inside Scoop: How Two Real Guys Built a Business with a Social Conscience and a Sense of Humor (Three Rivers, 1995) may appeal. Or if yogurt is more your thing, check out Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World (Hyperion 2008), by Gary Hirshberg, C-E-Yo of Stoneyfield Farm. Yunus has also written a recent book laying out his views on a new kind of capitalism that can serve humanity’s most pressing needs: Building Social Business (Public Affairs, 2010).
- If you’re getting inspired, its time for some serious internet surfing. Check out these resource links and start exploring.
You’re hooked. This sounds like something you’d like to pursue. You want to learn more and meet others with similar interests.
- Look around campus. We’ve got several programs for undergraduates and grad students.
- Then get thee to a conference. There are a host of excellent ones, many on the East Coast.
You are more than hooked; you’ve got an idea you want to develop. You need more skills and a network.
- StartingBloc is a terrific starting point. They put on several Social Innovation Institutes annually at top campuses in several cities. Then join their large network of fellows, including the active DC-based group.
- For freshmen, Compass Partners is another excellent starting point. Undergraduates can also take advantage of Ashoka’s programs on campus.
- Other off-campus resources are listed here.
- Work with your advisor to plot out a sequence of courses, internships, research projects, practicums, and skill institutes in SIS and around AU. Use them to develop your venture. Get your professors to introduce you to outside resources.
You need a job and possibly some funding for your idea.
- Find leads for both on the resources page.
You have something good going; you need further support, and maybe some recognition.
- It might be time to apply to some of the competitive fellowship programs.