Social entrepreneurship is an increasingly popular focus for MBA students, but what exactly does the term mean? We spoke to Pamela Hartigan, director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.
Can you briefly define social entrepreneurship?
Social entrepreneurship is entrepreneurship that fuses innovation, resourcefulness, and opportunity to create new systems or practices – or improve on those that exist – that instead of being focused on just making a profit are focused on transforming society in a positive way.
How does that differ from the work of charities?
Social entrepreneurship defines an approach; it’s not a legal structure. You can be a social entrepreneur who is focused on creating change through a non-profit, or through a for-profit structure.
People get caught up in this idea whether it’s a charity or not; it is independent of charity. And in fact, to make it sustainable, it should not be a charity. But it really is not about the legal structure, and that’s the main message here: it’s about an approach to how to create innovation in a way that changes systems and practices.