Finding meaning through Social Entrepreneurship
In our first blogpost, we will be talking to you about Social Entrepreneurship which —it’s no secret — is at the heart of HMN’s mission to promote fairness of opportunities and social betterment.
A little background
Social entrepreneurship is a concept which was framed in the 80’s but since then, due to its broad and universal concerns, has assumed various forms of labelling. The actual definition is still being debated amongst specialists, all vying for the best and most accurate one that may reach consensus in an ever-complex ecosystem.
Having said that, there remain two common denominators emerging from the diversity of labels: social and/or environmental impact and creative thinking/innovation.
Even though HerMeNow area of influence involves the MENA region and Africa, let’s look at the European Commission’s rather ubiquitous formulation choice which a number of social enterprises have based their game plan on:
“ A social enterprise is an operator in the social economy whose main objective is to have a social impact rather than make a profit for their owners or shareholders. It operates by providing goods and services for the market in an entrepreneurial and innovative fashion and uses its profits primarily to achieve social objectives. It is managed in an open and responsible manner and, in particular, involve employees, consumers and stakeholders affected by its commercial activities.”
Maier, A. (2015), “A map of social enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe”, European Commission
Why does Social Entrepreneurship matter?
A) Finding purpose in a world full of challenges
One of the most obvious reasons why one would ever consider committing to setting up a social enterprise would probably have to be found in one’s inner workings. We all need to sustain ourselves regularly, if not daily, with a sense of meaning. As the German psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl wrote in his famous post-WWII book, Man In Search For Meaning: “ […] being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself—be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is, and the more he actualizes himself.”
B) Generating self-respect and dignity
Not only does generating profit with a social purpose through an innovative, impact-driven business, is inherently valuable to our fellow human beings, it also provides our individual selves with a sense of dignity. More broadly, this could be another way of approaching the issue of self-esteem which, more or less avowedly, many of us experience. We can only truly respect ourselves when the confidence gained by our actions is being validated by reality; witnessing our impact upon our surroundings and ultimately, our community, will only encourage us to power through and grow our business onward and upward.
C) Partaking in a collective pursuit generating an inspirational ripple effect
We all more or less know it in our heart that a life well-lived is often bound up with the relationships we forge through it. Whether close or casual, they infuse a sense of belonging and togetherness that, whatever our temperaments, contribute to our overall psychological health and well-being. Ironically, in our hyper-connected world, we often find ourselves lacking this fundamental “human touch”; in the early days of the fast-growing metaverse, we all have to face the threat of getting more and more estranged from one another. And that’s where it all comes back to: who am I in the real world? What can I do to shape a future whereby children will be able to live in harmony with the planet and play their part in our shared humanity. A present and future where each of our actions bear real consequences and climate emergency is not to be questioned but tackled?
This can of course assume many forms, from caring for our family, our community to accomplishing far-reaching goals with a global range. What counts in the end isn’t to manufacture yet another cool and profitable product — rather to offer any product or service profitable to all following a stakeholder economy’s logic.
Let’s all be on it!