Just as only the most efficient traditional businesses thrive, social entrepreneurship companies generate and handle their own money, and they must run well and meet goals in order to continue to secure funding and/or sell their products. To me, social entrepreneurship is the best of both worlds: it’s centered around social change and values people, not just money, but social entrepreneurship companies must manage their money responsibly in order to survive, just like any other for-profit business. Though other socially-oriented organizations such as charities do tremendous work in the world, some survive without actually creating change because lots of their money comes from public solicitation.
To this end, social entrepreneurship is important in the world we live in because groups that are traditionally tasked with combating social problems – for example, the government – can often operate poorly, especially in areas of the greatest need. In Detroit, the city government has failed to properly care for their citizens in recent years due to a host of issues, including poor management and a lack of funding. I don’t mean to criticize the city, but to point out that this creates opportunity by leaving ample room for others to step in and make change. Social entrepreneurship is important because it doesn’t wait around for the current systems to make change.
One example of social entrepreneurship I have observed in Detroit is Human Scale Studio, which is a “strategic consultancy with methodologies ranging from future-casting, community planning, and design research…” We are working for one of their current clients, the Corktown Economic Development Corporation, mapping the Corktown neighborhood and developing a Place Plan of the area. Human Scale is a social entrepreneurship company because it is still a for-profit organization but its focus is providing consulting services to organizations that plan for the future of cities in order to make them better places to live for their residents. This model of business is exciting, and I’m looking forward to continuing my work with Human Scale Studio and the CEDC this summer!