Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs:
“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish.
They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”1
Importantly, and from the example of Fr. Tucker above, it is clear the application of entrepreneurship concepts and behaviours can and are exhibited in many socially directed and delivered ventures/enterprises who seek to turn recognised opportunities into an outcome that meets personal/community need. Such social entrepreneurship has become a global movement —a movement with a goal to affect positive social change. But are all social services entrepreneurial and innovative? Opportunities in social sectors, including environmental, poverty, ageing and human rights issues etc, are driven by large, complex problems. Perhaps we can be so bold as to call such social problems “wicked problems.”2 In the early 1970s wicked problems were contrasted with tame problems - in other words, the linear and traditional approaches to solving tame problems were being used on social issues with little success. Further observation indicated that these problems were ill-defined, so the perception of the actual problem was the symptom of another problem. As such, “wicked problems became characterized as malign, vicious, tricky, and aggressive.”
As with any emerging area of intellectual and practical significance, it is important to have a guiding definition for the purpose of shared understanding and discussion. Two definitions of social entrepreneurship are noted:
“Social entrepreneurs play the role of change agents in the social sector by (1) adopting a mission to create and sustain social value (not just private value); (2) recognising and relentlessly pursuing new opportunities to serve that mission; (3) engaging in a process of continuous innovation, adaptation, and learning; (4) acting boldly without being limited by resources currently in hand; and (5) exhibiting heightened accountability to the constituencies served and for the outcomes created.”3
“Social entrepreneurship arises from an unconscious spirit of generosity within various people who produce a facility to envision, resource and enable activity which otherwise exists as unmet need. Need is lessened by a social entrepreneur who possesses unique qualities to match the need.” 4
These definitions share a common theme: Their method and execution are entrepreneurial in thinking and action, while their mission and purpose are driven by social need and benefit. Four examples follow to illustrate the central position of meeting social need and delivering a benefit to the user:
a) The Prince's Trust – is a charity in the United Kingdom founded in 1976 by HRH Charles, Prince of Wales to help vulnerable young people get their lives on track. It supports 11 to 30-year-olds who are unemployed and those struggling at school and at risk of exclusion. Many of the young people helped by The Trust are in or leaving care, facing issues such as homelessness or mental health problems, or have been in trouble with the law – indeed a ‘wicked’ problem. The Trust runs a range of training programmes, providing practical and financial support to build young people's confidence and motivation - over 950,000 young people have been helped to turn their lives around; created 125,000 entrepreneurs; and given business support to 395,000 people in the UK. From 2006 to 2016, its work for the youth has been worth an estimated £1.4 billion. Significantly, and during the Covid-19 pandemic HRH The Prince of Wales says young people in the UK need help “more than ever” as he acknowledges the impact of the pandemic.5
In 2015 the Prince’s Trust International was launched at The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta. It is an independent charity, with HRH The Prince of Wales as its Founder and President. As in the UK, PTI supports young people in Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Greece, India, Jordan, Malta, New Zealand, and Pakistan. Over 10,000 young people across the world have experienced the support of the Trust, with 66% successfully entering work, education, or training. This is an exciting time for Prince’s Trust International as they implement a new five-year strategy, designed to help 100,000 young people over the next five years and raise £50 Million in order to transform their lives.6
In 2015, The Telegraph reported with a headline, “Evergreen Prince has changed the world.”
“In 1969 Prince Charles lobbied the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson concerning the fate of Atlantic Salmon. That intervention preceded the foundation of either Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace, and the Prince – who turns 65 on Thursday (14, Nov. 2015) – has continued to be ahead of his time, with a remarkable eye for issues that will later become widely adopted. In 1970, he advocated new regulatory standards for pollution, and he was pressing for action on global warming in the late Eighties.”
Sir Richard Branson,7 in referring to the work of the Princes Trust, says “that the sooner young people start learning about entrepreneurship the better, as the skills that can be gained are manifold.” Penny Junor8, in her book says - “He (HRH) has helped where no bank manager would have considered their application – even if they had known how to apply for a loan -Prince Charles believed in their potential and has put time, thought, effort and money into helping through the Prince’s Trust and its various offshoots.”
b) Muhammad Yunus (born 28 June 1940) is a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist, and civil society leader who founded the Grameen Bank and pioneered the loan concepts of microcredit and microfinance.9 From the 1970s’, using this concept, these loans were given to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. In 2006, Yunus and the Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts through microcredit to create economic and social development from below". The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that "lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty" and that "across cultures and civilizations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development".
Yunus co-founded Yunus Social Business as a Global Initiative (YSB). YSB creates and empowers social businesses to address and solve social problems around the world. As the international implementation arm for Yunus' vision of a new, humane capitalism, YSB manages incubator funds for social businesses in developing countries and provides advisory services to companies, governments, foundations and NGOs. The belief that money and wealth are the ultimate good has, Yunus thinks, given rise to a ‘wicked problem’ comprising three great societal ills: Unemployment, as competition for a set number of jobs; environmental destruction, which is accepted as a side-effect of economic growth; and poverty, an inevitable consequence of wealth concentration.
In his latest book A World of Three Zeros,10 Yunus discusses a new concept of business, the “social business,” which has the objective of addressing a social problem rather than accumulating wealth. Sitting in between for-profit and non-profit enterprise, the social business satisfies the selfless component of human instinct, so far ignored by an economic theory (and system) driven by selfishness. Humans, Yunus says, “are both selfish and selfless,” and they should be allowed (and educated) to measure business success not just in terms of monetary gain but in the ability to improve society.
Yunus, who has seen social businesses flourish thanks to microfinance loans, rests his vision of a new system on two core principles. The first is that people are born to be entrepreneurs, but this nature gets constrained in a system that teaches them to be merely job-seekers, limiting job creation to a privileged few. The second is that some people would fulfil that natural inclination by starting businesses that do not have wealth accumulation as their only goal, if only they thought doing so were an acceptable measure of success. And if wealth were not the only yardstick, Yunus says, new objectives and goals would open up in front of our eyes. People would solve unemployment by becoming, in larger numbers, job creators rather than job seekers. As a result, they would stay out of poverty, having access to capital as long as they can create a sustainable business, even if it doesn’t produce enormous wealth. And they would protect the environment by considering it a resource, not merely fuel to more wealth creation.
c) Florence Nightingale has many titles to her name. She has been known as the Lady of the Lamp and the Mother of Modern Nursing.11 The Crimean War (October 1853) was a brutal battle fought between an alliance of Britain, France, Turkey, and Sardinia against the Russian Empire. A tragic outcome for Britain was that thousands of its young men were sent to the front. to give their all, but many young men wound up wounded and sick at the British hospital in Constantinople. It is worth noting that the majority of deaths were not a result of combat but rather that of disease. For example, 2,755 of the British Empire’s force were killed in action compared with the 17,580 who died of disease. Even when brought to the hospital in Scutari, the patients were “swarming with vermin, huge lice crawling all about their persons and clothes. Many were grimed with mud, dirt, blood and gunpowder stains. Several were completely prostrated by fever and dysentery. Nightingale comments “the sight was a pitiable one and such as I never before witnessed...” This was the situation when Nightingale, and her nurses, arrived at Scutari, near Constantinople, 0n 3 November 1854 and recognised the conditions were dire, indeed a ‘wicked’ problem. The dirty and vermin-ridden hospital lacked even basic equipment and provisions. The medical staff were swamped by the large number of soldiers being shipped across the Black Sea from the war in the Crimea with the majority of casualties suffering from disease rather than from battle wounds.
But it did not deter Florence Nightingale and her group of 34 nurses, they accepted the challenge and worked tirelessly improving the medical and sanitary arrangements at Scutari by setting up food kitchens, treating the wounded, cleaning the soldiers, and washing their linen and clothes. Their work in the Crimea set the standards for modern professional nursing. Importantly Florence Nightingale drew upon her entrepreneurial talents of organizing, structuring, persuading, and creating. She helped her patients, or “customers”, and provided overwhelming value to them. This was innovation in action. The team created something different, something new out of the individual parts and delivered a service valued by all in the hospital. This response to a dire need amongst these military casualties was not an end in itself. On return to England, Nightingale committed her total energy and indeed her life to applying these experiences to improving the provision of health care to the community at large using here entrepreneurial behaviour in delivering universal access to ‘patient-centred-care. This legacy is indicated from abstracts taken from her obituary.
The obituary for Florence Nightingale appeared in The Times on August 15, 1910.12 Amongst many references to the outstanding contributions to nursing care in her life it is noted …. “a fund for a national commemoration of her services had been started, the income from the proceeds, £45,400, being eventually devoted partly to the setting up at St. Thomas’s Hospital of a training school for hospital and infirmary nurses and partly to the maintenance and instruction at King’s College Hospital of midwifery nurses. For herself she would have neither public testimonial nor public welcome.”…..” The demand for district nurses soon became so great that more were clearly necessary, and Miss Nightingale was consulted as to what should be done. She replied that all the nurses then in training at St. Thomas’s were wanted for hospital work, and she recommended that a training school for nurses should be started in Liverpool.”… “Great and most beneficent changes, again, have followed the substitution in workhouse infirmaries of trained nurses for the pauper women to whose tender mercies the care of the sick in those institutions was formerly left. It was a “Nightingale probationer,” the late Agnes Jones, and 12 of her fellow-nurses from the Nightingale School at St. Thomas’s who were the pioneers of this reform at the Brownlow-hill Infirmary, Liverpool; and it was undoubtedly the spirit and the teaching of Florence Nightingale that inspired them in a task which, difficult enough under the conditions then existing, was to create a precedent for Poor Law authorities all the land over.”….” Midwifery was another branch of the nursing art which Florence Nightingale sought to reform.”…. the Times concludes with a statement that surely underlines the personal values to support patient centred care by “At her own request the money which would have been spent on a gold casket was devoted to charity, the sum of 100 guineas being given instead to the Hospital for Invalid Gentlewomen; and the casket presented to Miss Nightingale was of oak.”
d) Rosie Batty AO - (born 1962) is an English-born Australian domestic violence campaigner and the 2015 Australian of the Year. Domestic violence is a worldwide ‘wicked’ problem with no, as yet, legislated or community solution. Her entrepreneurial behaviour in articulating a nationwide campaign for action began in 2014 after her 11-year-old son Luke Batty was murdered by his father Greg Anderson. In April 2013, Anderson wielded a knife at Luke when they were alone inside his car, reportedly telling him that "it could all end with this." Batty decided that she could no longer support Anderson having contact with Luke. After she reported the incident to police, the court ordered that Anderson could have no further contact with his son, and an intervention order naming both Batty and Luke as protected persons was granted. In July 2013, Anderson challenged the decision in a court hearing and was granted access to Luke in public when he was playing sport.
Rosie Batty13 knows pain no woman should have to suffer. Her son was killed by his father in a violent incident in February 2014, a horrendous event that shocked not only the nation, but the world. Greg Anderson murdered his 11-year-old son Luke and was then shot by police at the Tyabb cricket oval. Rosie had suffered years of family violence and had had intervention and custody orders in place in an effort to protect herself and her son. She believes the killing was Greg's final act of control over her.
Since those events of 2014, Rosie has become an outspoken crusader and entrepreneur against domestic violence, winning hearts and minds all over Australia with her compassion, courage, grace and forgiveness. In the wake of the tragedy, Rosie's advocacy work has forced an unprecedented national focus on family violence, with the Victorian Labor government establishing Australia's first royal commission into family violence and committing a further $30 million over four years to protect women and children at high risk of family violence. The then Victorian Police Commissioner Ken Lay called it 'the Rosie Batty factor'. In January 2015, Rosie was named Australian of the Year, 2015.
In 2016, then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said of domestic violence in Australia that:"cultural change requires a great advocate and Rosie has been able to do that in a way that I think nobody has done before".
On 10 June 2019, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition for her "distinguished service to the community as a campaigner and advocate for the prevention of family violence".
Batty is considered to have had a significant influence on national public attitudes, philanthropy, government initiatives and funding, support services and police and legal procedures related to domestic violence in Australia and established the Luke Batty Foundation to give voice to women and children affected by the trauma of domestic and family violence.
1 Bill Drayton, 2011, CEO and founder of Ashoka (http://ashoka.org)
2 Jeffrey Timmons, Murray Gillin , Sam Burshtein and Stephen Spinelli.. 2011 “New Venture Creation – Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century, McGraw-Hill, Australia (Pacific Edition) PP 240
3 Gregory Dees, 1998, “The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship”, Kauffman Foundation and Stanford University, Kansas City and Pao Alto.
4 Loris Gillin, ‘Social Value Creation: Core Determinant from the Impact of Social Entrepreneurship’ , PhD Thesis, Swinburne University of Technology, 2005.
5 Princes Trust, https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/about-the-trust/news-views, June 2020
6 HRH Prince Charles, June 2020, https://princestrustinternational.org/about-us/
7 The Telegraph- September 15, 2014,
8 Penny Junor, 1998, ‘Charles Victim or Villain’, (pp.54)
10 Muhammad Yunis, 2017, “A World of Three Zeroes - The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Carbon Emissions.” Hachette Books NY
11 Barbara C. Phillips, www.NPBusiness.ORG/florence/
13 Rosie Batty with Bryce Corbett , A Mother’s Story, 2015 Harper Collins