How to Become a Social Entrepreneur

Monday, May 2, 2011

Many of us feel the need to serve a greater good in life, but turning a passion into a successful nonprofit takes serious business acumen.

By Lou Dubois

Scott Harrison was 28 years old, sitting on a beach inUruguay with a model girlfriend, a Rolex watch and aBMW waiting nearby-a life the nightclub promoter inNew York City had been chasing after for nearly 10 years-when he realized (in his own words) “what a selfish scumbag” he was. His entire adult life had been geared towards serving himself and the club patrons, and when he had done nothing to help others, it made him step back.

Seven years removed from that day on the beach, Harrison is still in New York, heading up charity: water, a non-profit organization that has delivered clean drinking water to over 1 million underserved people in 17 different countries, and aspires to help more than 100 million in the next ten years. How serious of a problem is he tackling? In short, nearly a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water (that’s one in eight people). One of the most successful social entrepreneurs of our time, Harrison’s visionary non-profit grew 123% in 2010, the economy be damned.

Success stories like Harrison’s are few and far between for social entrepreneurs, defined as “someone who targets an unfortunate but stable equilibrium that causes the neglect, marginalization, or suffering of a segment of humanity; who brings to bear on this situation his or her inspiration, direct action, creativity, courage, and fortitude; and who aims for and ultimately affects the establishment of a new stable equilibrium that secures permanent benefit for the targeted group and society at large,” by Roger L. Martinand Sally Osberg in a 2007 Stanford University report titled “Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition.”

Source: Inc. (link opens in a new window)