Research a social or environmental problem of interest and find an innovative and sustainable approach that can be practically applied to benefit society. Learn from experts in the field and eventually build relationships with funders to get a venture off the ground or scale it up.
Know the funders:
Venture capital- provide equity capital to ventures. Many traditional VC firms have a social or environmental branch with funds dedicated solely to social and/or environmental causes. Venture philanthropy firms- apply business and venture capital strategies to sustainable social causes. An example of a venture philanthropy firm is Acumen Fund. Incubators- help social entrepreneurs develop their business ideas and provide training, mentors and seed funding. Global Social Benefit Incubator (GBSI) is an example. Crowdfunding- crowdsource funding for organizations directly from individuals. There are many different platforms available for crowdfunding including Causes.com. Government agencies- support social entrepreneurship by providing information around social problems, enabling innovation with resources and rewarding successes.
Skills and education
Skills: Can you check them all off?
- Empathy and a passion to make a difference
- Leadership skills
- Willing to take risks- social entrepreneurs often tackle intractable problems in ways never before tried, therefore they must be willing to accept failure frequently and have the resilience to bounce back
- Creativity to innovate new ideas and businesses
- Flexibility to an unpredictable career path
- Hard-working attitude to turn an inspiring idea into a viable venture
Education: Do you need a degree for impact?
While undergraduate and graduate degrees in social entrepreneurship are offered, they are not required to be a successful entrepreneur.
There is currently a surge of enthusiasm for new social ventures and social entrepreneurs are continually creating new projects poised for growth and impact. A growing number of influencers from the public and private sectors view investing in social entrepreneurs as a credible avenue for driving systems change through innovation. Social entrepreneurs are needed to develop new models for a new century.
According to Forbes:
“Young entrepreneurs looking to launch the next hot startup have a lot of factors to consider, and which city will provide the friendliest backdrop for their endeavors should be at the top of the list.”
The 10 best cities for young social entrepreneurs:
- Austin-Round Rock, TX
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
- Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN & WI
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
- Madison, WI
- Midland, TX
- Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA & NH
- Fargo, ND
Source Forbes; The 10 Best Cities For Young Entrepreneurs Right Now
Explore available opportunities through Net Impact’s Job Board.