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28 February 2023

Discovering the World of Social Entrepreneurship: A Journey towards Creating Social Value

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Get ready for an exciting journey into the world of social entrepreneurship, where social values are at the forefront! In this article, you will read the summary of a session on social entrepreneurship presented by Maarten Hogenstijn (senior researcher at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences), an expert in the field. He gave us fascinating insights into the differences between social and traditional entrepreneurship, different categories, social entrepreneurship in the Netherlands, and how to build a network. 

Social entrepreneurship is a relatively new field, so there may be a lack of established networks and resources for students to tap into. As with any new venture, social entrepreneurship comes with its own set of challenges. For students, in particular, the challenges can seem daunting as the field is new. The main challenge is that both financial profits and social issues come together in this major and have to find a balance. In addition to this, funding and financial support are major hurdles, as social ventures typically require significant capital to get off the ground.

Social Responsibility of Entrepreneurs

I will try to explain more about the insights presented by Maarten. He explained that traditional entrepreneurship (e.g., Shell) focuses primarily on financial value creation. However, Non-profit social entrepreneurship, such as Red Cross, prioritizes social value creation. We also learned about cause marketing, a collaboration between non-profit organizations and for-profit companies to promote their cause. While companies with corporate social responsibility (e.g., Unilever) do recognize the importance of social responsibility, they still prioritize their financial goals and often use social responsibility initiatives as a way to enhance their image or reputation. In terms of social enterprises, he elaborated on the fact that social value creation is prioritized before financial gain. In the case of the Netherlands, there is no legal form for social enterprises. They can fall under two categories: social business and social economy. It's a revolutionary approach to business that combines the principles of entrepreneurship with a social mission. This emerging field captured my interest and attention so much due to the fact that we have always seen business and financial-related topics in opposition to social values. However, what we can see in social entrepreneurship is having both at the same time. This new approach will give a student a lot of new opportunities to broaden their knowledge.

Framing social entrepreneurship

The meeting touched upon the purpose of the economy and the expected behaviors of social entrepreneurs. Maarten emphasized the importance of bringing a multiple-value perspective. This perspective prioritizes ecological and social factors alongside financial ones. He also highlighted the difficulty in distinguishing knowledge and skills in social entrepreneurship and the importance of local focus, frameworks, and identity creation in the field. Even though it is challenging, I’m excited to address and translate this nuanced knowledge and skills into a framework that will be the building block for developing a digital educational escape room for social entrepreneurship. To gain valuable experience and to build networks Maarten suggested students start by joining a social or non-social enterprise before starting their own venture. By working for an established organization, students can learn about the challenges and opportunities of social entrepreneurship firsthand, develop important skills, and build relationships with like-minded individuals.







At the end of the meeting, when I left, I felt invigorated and inspired to delve deeper into the world of social entrepreneurship! I would wrap up the meeting in one sentence: social entrepreneurship is a field where creativity and innovation meet social responsibility. I believe there is still a lot to explore and I can't wait to see what the future holds! In my opinion, more students should be exposed to this dynamic field, and it's exciting to imagine the impact that a new generation of social entrepreneurs can have on a growing society!

Written by: Banafsheh Jokarborazjani - Digital Transformation Design Trainee

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