In my last blog post I said my next one would explain what social entrepreneurship means to me. Before I launch into that, I’ll explain my current situation as I’m at a unique moment to discuss this topic actually. I recently finished my 1st year at JGU. So what does the summer hold? Well, conventional wisdom is that I would have diligently pursued a summer internship. And in fact I did that, and was offered a great internship at the US State Department in DC working for a close adviser to the Secretary of State. However, while no doubt a great opportunity; I could never seem to get excited about it. And ultimately I decided to turn it down.
Instead, this summer isn’t going to be a conventional one. Honestly though, leaving my job at the US Treasury and moving to India has already sent me on an interesting and unconventional journey – why stop now?
So instead, this summer I’m going to follow my new found passion for social entrepreneurship and see where it takes me. My plan for the summer is quite simple. I’m going to meet as many social entrepreneurs as I can. I’ll start right here in Delhi. Then, next week I’ll travel to Bangalore and then on to Mumbai. After a short trip north into the Himalayas, I’ll head back to the US to spend time with family over the 4th of July and then start a tour in the US. I will definitely spend some time in San Francisco with old friends and join the HUB. Likely some time in DC and then New York. We will see after that.
Returning back to the question of what social entrepreneurship means to me I realize I will likely have a more informed idea after the summer than I do right now. But I suppose I’ll take a shot now and then compare it to what it evolves to at the end of the summer.
Ultimately, to me social entrepreneurship is about solving big problems with simple innovative ideas. These are the problems that today seem almost unsolvable. Problems like extreme poverty, human rights abuses, unequal treatment for women, diseases like HIV/AIDs and malaria, and environmental degradation.The global media has increased our awareness of these problems and more generally about what is happening around the world. Sometimes what we see is simply unacceptable to us. This new awareness inspires many people to feel a compelling need to take action (myself included).
In my small attempt to personally take action last month I attended a training session on humanitarian relief in post-conflict areas. We were located in the conflict areas of Assam in Northeast India working with a NGO called Doctors For You.
(you can find a few more pics on my blog here and here and here).
Coming back and reflecting on my experience I realized that it is one thing to WANT to do good, or to make a positive social impact. But it is quite another thing to know HOW to do this effectively.
Here is where I see the value in social entrepreneurship. The key is the Theory of Change method used by social entrepreneurs to make positive social impact. In other words, taking action using clear and transparent business tools to address social problems. Doing this results in more specific and measurable targets for desired social change. Mixed with deeper reflection entrepreneurs can innovate and find solutions not previously considered. Ultimately, doing good in a more effective way.
My plan for the next blog post? I’m thinking about a discussion of my theory of change….in addition to, hopefully, some interesting travel experiences.