Impact Venture: A short guide to becoming a social entrepreneur

By: Violeta Rasmussen, Toyeeb Abdulquadri

In the age of daunting social problems, social entrepreneurship continues to provide a viable alternative to solving social problems. From climate crisis to food security, social entrepreneurs are addressing the world’s most pressing problems through non-profit and for-profit organizations.


This 2020, do you want to join the next cohort of changemakers? Good news as it’s not rocket science as you may think!

Of course, becoming a successful social entrepreneur indeed involves lots of hard work but following the right steps will increase your chances of success. Here are seven key steps to take:


1. Find Your “Why”


Psychologists argue that there is always one reason or another that triggers all human actions. If your mission in life is to address social challenges, you need to identify the solid reasons behind it. A well-defined reason will drive you into formulating a mission statement that can attract investors, donors and other stakeholders.


The stories of successful social entrepreneurs are replete with reasons such as a sheer passion for social change, empathy for victims or direct experience with social challenges. For example, Scott Harrison founded Charity: After his volunteering experiences with Mercy Ship in Liberia he recognized unclean water as a major cause of diseases in developing countries and founded Charity Water to provide clean water for over 663 billion of people. Since its establishment in 2006, this non-profit has funded thirty thousand water projects across 26 countries and provided clean water to about 10 million people in the world.


For more information about different social entrepreneurs stories and their inspiration to start their project watch this video:


2. Explore opportunities and challenges


You need to explore the highs and lows in the field you are interested in. Where are the opportunities to create social value? What are the challenges to face in tapping these opportunities? These are two key questions that should be answered as you research the field you want to delve into. Before they dive in, social entrepreneurs usually have a full understanding of the people or society they want to serve and also discover appropriate tools and resources needed to successfully create a maximum social impact.


3. Create a strategic plan


Once you have completed your research, it is time to prepare a blueprint for executing your desired outcomes. You may want to use one of the widely accepted strategic planning techniques, the SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).


4. Don’t do it alone! Find team members and other professionals for advice


There are always people with more experience than you, therefore if you want to make your idea succeed the best is to find people who can help you by telling you their story in order to know in advance what are the challenges they overcame. Of course these people are good network too as you never know when you need their help!


Always be humble and seek for advice, ideas and feedback. A useful resource for business mentorship is SCORE; an American network of volunteers and expert business mentors. It’s a resource of free business mentoring and education since 1964. It helps you to start your business journey with some kind of help and company.


5. What’s your business model?


If you are trying to become an entrepreneur you also need to know how your enterprise is going to make money, so it is important to make clear which kind of business model you want to develop and know how far you want your services and products to reach.

For instance, if you want to serve costumers locally as one person or if you want to expand the target and hire in order to make a bigger impact.


A business model includes two key elements: an operating strategy that includes organizational structure and external partnerships and a resource strategy that defines where and on what terms the organization will acquire the resources (financial and human) it needs to do its work. A tool that can inspire you and help you creating your business model is Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. It explains the most common Business Model patterns, based on concepts from leading business thinkers and helps you reinterpret for your own context.


6. Finding ways to fund your project


You have to think on how you will obtain the funding you need to launch and what you will have to do in order to get it. You have to think either you want to seek a traditional business loan or if you can afford to self-finance.


You also need to consider who will support you: will you look for family and friends for loans or will you try to reach out to angel investors and venture capitalists. Social Venture Network is a great place to connect with investors that fall in this growing category. Crowdfunding is another resource


7. Use an action plan to organize your life as an entrepreneur


Be systematic and organised: use any kind of tool to write down your schedule, goals meetings, in order to be as effective as you can.


These are the short but main steps in order to start your social project; however, you may find other challenges on the way! The most important thing during the start of this adventure is to keep close to family and friends that can listen to you and give you their unconditional support.


Now you are ready to start, good luck!

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