When I think of social entrepreneurship, I think of Lebron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers winning the 2016 NBA Championship. As ridiculous as it sounds, Lebron James is the embodiment of the 3P Triple Bottom Line business model. The 3Ps stand for people, planet, and profit. While Lebron is a profit-oriented marketing juggernaut, with his lifetime deal with Nike and endorsement of Beats by Dr. Dre, he famously returned to Cleveland to “end the 52-year championship drought for our fans.” In this respect, he is not the conventional entrepreneur who dedicates all of his resources to maximizing profit. Instead, Lebron’s goals and methods of approaching a game are more aligned with those of a social entrepreneur who is more conscientious about the need for a net positive return on society (in this case it would be the city of Cleveland). What I mean is Lebron James (the social entrepreneur) makes a real effort to integrate the people (Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith) and the planet (all Cavs fans) when building a business (the Cavalier brand).
The Cavs are the 2016 NBA Champions
Similar to the way Lebron has revitalized the sports scene in Cleveland, other social entrepreneurs have the same opportunity to reinvent their surroundings. In a world where cash is king and actions are dictated by profit margins, communities are divided along socioeconomic lines. In this sense, cities like Detroit, which are so unevenly distributed in terms of wealth and population, are in desperate need of a make-over. This is where social entrepreneurs must come in. In addition to social entrepreneurs being jump-starters of economic progress, they are also catalysts for social change. There could not be a more apparent example than Build Institute, a small business accelerator that I have worked at for two weeks now. After having close to 800 graduates come through its intensive 8-week business planning course, Build Institute has been able to bring start-ups that are in their infancy to fruition. Take Ojas Akolkar’s Tribalfare for instance, a business run by a Build grad who specializes in sourcing one of a kind handcrafted artisan made products from all across India. Just visiting her website was a cultural experience in itself. It felt like I was transported to a marketplace in India. Not only were each of her products affordable, they all told a unique story. It is through graduates like Ojas Akolkar that Build Institute is able to piece together the 3Ps by balancing the social mission of empowering people to engage in a supportive community and the personal endeavor of maintaining a viable and profitable business.