How Social Entrepreneurs Can Have the Most Impact

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Social enterprise in the U.S. is a fast-growing, but fragmented, movement. Looking at a recent release of data from The Great Social Enterprise Census, only a fifth are larger than $2 million in budget, just 8% employ more than a 100 people, and 60% were founded in the past 8 years, when the movement really began to gain momentum.

What happened in 2006? And is this kind of rapid growth good news?

You can find the answer to the timing question nestled among the facts that David Bornstein lays out in the preface to his book, How to Change the World. That year, two global headlines raised the profile of social enterprise: Mohammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace prize. And Bill Gates announced he was shifting his priorities from software development to social impact by moving full time to his foundation. In the broader U.S. population, two generations made clear that their interests, too, lay in helping society. Civic Ventures had recently released its first survey of baby boomers and found at least half were interested in “encore careers” helping others. Meanwhile, 19,000 high-scoring college graduates across the U.S. applied for Teach for America—including 10% of the graduating classes of Dartmouth and Yale. My organization, The Bridgespan Group, received 1,800 applications for 18 entry-level positions consulting to nonprofits and philanthropy.

Source: Harvard Business Review (link opens in a new window)

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