In a world where so many issues seem out of control, so many problems seem insurmountable, with no answers, is the face of business changing to meet those needs? There are companies willing to think outside the box, investors willing to help with long term changes, and people willing to help find those answers. Is there a way to to do business that not only shows a profit, but also changes lives? While many may not think of businesses as social entrepreneurs, the fact is, many businesses are successful, while still helping others.
Many of those we regard today as historical social entrepreneurs may have not set out to create enterprises. Their focus and passion opened the doors to many of today’s businesses. Some of the faces that changed history include:
Historical Social Entrepreneurs
- Susan B. Anthony – her expansion of women’s rights may have started as a simple movement. However, her movement created a revolution that changed the entire country, and the way business was done.
- John Muir – his love of nature and his writings inspired and motivated a nation to change the way they treated the world they lived in. It brought into being the U.S. National Park System. This love of nature also inspired businesses to be aware of the importance of the world we live in.
- Dr. Maria Montessori – the vision and belief that children teach themselves moved her to create educational reform. This reform has altered the way people think, raise, and educate children.
- Frederick Law Olmstead – a believer in city beautification, he won a design competition with his creation of Central Park in New York City. His vision and inspiration is often credited with founding the field of landscape architecture.
These historical entrepreneurs have also opened the doors to new generations of social entrepreneurs. In today’s world, that vision and inspiration is continued with people still creating businesses that combine social awareness with good business practices.
Present Day Social Entrepreneurs
- Bill Drayton – founded Ashoka, Youth Venture, and Get America Working
- Jamie Oliver – TV chef who created Fifteen to train and employ disadvantaged youth to be chefs.
- Marian Wright Edelman – founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund.
- Amir Alexander Hasson – founder of First Mile Solutions and United Villages
What do all of these people have in common? The vision, the drive, and the belief that they can make the world a better place. While having the know how to run a business is essential, having the vision to think outside the box and be aware of how that business affects the world around them is as important today as it was in the past. In the world today, we need businesses that not only seek to succeed, but also make a difference.