Doing good found to take its toll as more social entrepreneurs report burnout
Sarah Shearman and Belinda Goldsmith | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Passionate and dedicated to the cause, businesses leaders on a mission to help society and the environment are increasingly coming up against an unexpected hurdle – burnout.
Globally social entrepreneurship is on the rise, with more businesses being set up with the aim of making a profit that can be used to address problems like unemployment, homelessness, mental health, knife crime and even loneliness.
But juggling these responsibilities can often take a toll on the business leaders’ mental health and wellbeing, according to academics, health professionals, and social entrepreneurs attending two of the sector’s major annual events this week.
“Creating a business that does good while simultaneously ensuring that the business itself is sustainable is not an easy task,” said Gabriella Cacciotti, assistant professor in entrepreneurship at Britain’s University of Warwick.
“The goals of ‘doing good’ and ‘making money’ may be incompatible, as making progress towards one of these goals requires actions and decisions that can undermine progress toward the other.”
A feeling of burnout weighed so heavily for Rebecca Kaduru that she wanted to throw in the towel on KadAfrica, the passion fruit farming social enterprise she founded with her husband in Uganda in 2014.
“What was so taxing as a social entrepreneur is you’ve this idea and this dream and you have to go out convince other people to give you money to make it happen,” said Kaduru, now managing director of Solidaridad Network, a Dutch ethical trade group.