Social entrepreneurship is spreading its wings. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), almost half as many individuals are creating ventures with an environmental or social purpose as those with an exclusively commercial aim.
Driven mainly by young entrepreneurs, the growth of the movement has taken place against a backdrop of several corporate scandals in typical businesses, such as VW emissions scandal and Enron in 2001, that have led people to question capitalism values. The question now is whether a social enterprise can generate enough profit to ensure its survival.
In the UK, there are 99,000 social enterprises employing 1.44 million people. This is 5% of total employment, according to the government. Many are in areas such education and health, though businesses in any sector can be run as a social enterprise.
While research suggests many social entrepreneurs worldwide around the world are young, the movement is inspired by figures likes Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for pioneering microcredit. Yunus founded Grameen Bank, a microfinance organisation and community development bank that provides small loans to the impoverished without requiring collateral, many of them women.
Other high-profile social entrepreneurs include Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms Shoes; John Bird, founder of The Big Issue; Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka; and Katie Martinez, founder of Elegantees.