Social Change through Social Entrepreneurship

Posted on 02. June 2014

by Sadik Tabar

Sadik Tabar

How does true change occur? Does it come from inside (endogenous) or outside of the social system (exogenous)? In other words, do societies themselves generate any change process through internal drives or do external forces bring change process to societies? And, if any, what is the role of entrepreneurs to respond the question for the origin of social change?

In Ronda, a small but vibrant town in Southern Spain, various civil society representatives, young entrepreneurs, EU-level officials, and local community members convened on March 1st to primarily discuss on these questions under the scope of education, employment, and entrepreneurship. Once the social entrepreneurship has been granted a key role to instigate social change, the external forces to the society in this regard become more absurd and strained. Therefore, instead of emphasizing highly accepted figure for entrepreneurs as a solely heroic or great man, several debates at the Ronda Forum have been concentrated on a more collectively-shaped social goods and opportunities. For this sake, the dimensions of change within the system that include education, employment, regulations, cultural legacies, etc. have been broadly discussed at the Ronda Forum.

Following the alignment with national governments, the capitalist system has found opportunities to reframe the society and public spaces as the territory of capitalist market. In the meantime, entrepreneurs have not only confronted with economic barriers but also structural and institutional barriers from government and market. Indeed, the concept of entrepreneurship principally fits into the realm of society rather than into the economy. Therefore, social entrepreneurship has become a phenomenon to challenge governmental exercise of power in the form of economic activities within the capitalist system. Likewise, as a result of chronic intent of the government to build consensus rather than addressing priorities within the society, social entrepreneurs have emerged especially in Europe to elevate priorities to the top of social agenda through initiating collective movements. In the capitalist market environment, governments show consent to businesses get into the economic sphere of social life. On the other hand, the social sector has always been intervened by governments although social entrepreneurship has lately performed better than public policies of governments.

In order to understand the necessary changes in all dimensions of the capitalist system, the emergence of social entrepreneurship, which has not evolved in a vacuum, should be assessed in line with the complexity of this system. Once the state has transferred most of its operations of services to the private sector, private sector was not able to meet needs of society in social terms. Therefore, the mismatch between public and private sector in the procurement of socially prioritized services has materialized and welfare state becomes obsolete within a global economic system. Moreover, the intervention of governments into the civil society sector is worth to discuss, especially in terms of conditions on granting and funding of social projects.

It should be also taken into account that the existing social system in Europe, especially in Southern Europe, is suffering due to inefficient education, competitive employment terms, inflexible regulations or cultural differences. In these circumstances, the practice of enterprising along with the empowerment of individual responsibility and professionalism has triggered the emergence of entrepreneurs, specifically social entrepreneurs. It has been obvious that these changes in the social life would not generate from the public or private sector, but would only come through changes instigated by individuals and social groups. Social entrepreneurs have encouraged people who are seeking solutions for problems not to expect from governments, companies, churches or universities to handle social issues.

Therefore, social entrepreneurs have adopted a role to be a key catalyst in their society to generate a natural change process through using internal constructive potential of their society. This kind of approach for social change has been prevalent all over the discussions in Ronda Forum where the bottom-up approach and individual responsibility for collective change are given special attention.