The pointlessness of conspicuous consumption coupled with a sense of wanting the planet to be a slightly better place because one existed is leading to a large scale review of the pursuit of a career based on solely financial goals.
Typically this has led to private sector workers migrating to public or voluntary sector jobs.
However over the last century we have seen a growth in those in the entrepreneurial class opting to focus on social rather than financial goals. Florence Nightingale being an early example.
The 2008 recession triggered an interest in social capitalism, which in essence suggests that better social policies lead to better economic output. Social entrepreneurship is not so much about fixing society to create better economic outcomes, but to fix business so as to create better social outcomes.
The web and in particular social media has provided a platform that is causing social entrepreneurship to flourish. For example the ability to connect those with money to those that need the money at the volumes needed to help the intermediary cover their costs (and make enough money to grow their model) could only happen with a web-based model.
Keep in mind we are not talking about a facility that enables venture capitalists to lend to pre-IPO start ups. We are talking about allowing the average Joe in any Western economy to micro-finance the business of a start up in say rural Africa.
What is interesting here is that the model can be so effective that the economic goals whilst largely secondary can increasingly be almost primary without compromising the social output.
Social enterprise may seem like a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of margins. But that is where many ‘big ticket’ players today are heading because of the pressure of competing in a global market.
Smart entrepreneurs today may realise it is wise to ‘start at the bottom’. Those in emerging economies will have no other choice. But that constraint could well lead to a discipline that enables the emerging economy entrepreneurs to out compete their resource-rich western rivals.
So social entrepreneurism becomes less of a ‘conscience balm’ and more of a necessity for those looking to ‘stay in play’ in the global marketplace.