From the very first time I officially heard about social entrepreneurship almost two years ago until now, my personal definition of the term has changed and evolved countless times. Although I believe that official definitions are indeed important for us to have an anchor from which to base our experiences on, I always enjoy hearing other’s differing opinions and perspectives. Instead of just giving you my own version of the “official” definition, I would like to show you how my perspective has changed from my own experiences and the people that I have come into contact.
Before I had heard the term, I was actually introduced to the idea through my Mission President in Kobe, Japan. Like so many other formerly successful corporate businessmen, my Mission President had an intense desire to give back to the world by improving the quality of education and started a training program for teachers that followed the model of his former company, Franklin Covey. Through this experience, my budding, personal definition of social entrepreneurship was someone using their practical skills to tackle a social problem.
Once I had been introduced to the wonderful world of social innovation, I became good friends with last year’s president of MUSA and the founder of the Students for Social Innovation, Kyle Poe. He had a brilliant, business mind with a big heart for social change, and he used his experience and knowledge in accounting, finance, and consulting to assemble a group of students on campus that would assist socially innovative companies around the world. Although he wasn’t directly solving a pressing, societal problem, he used his practical skills (like my mission president) to tackle social problems in an innovative and new way, which further refined my evolving definition.
Finally, I had the incredible opportunity to teach business classes in entrepreneurial training last summer in Uganda, and the amazing, local Social Entrepreneurs that I met further transformed my definition. One person that I met in particular was Sanga Moses, a TED fellow that we had the privilege of running into in the rural village that we lived. His story can hardly be told in just one paragraph of one blog post, but if I were to try it would be something like this: coming from practically nothing, the child of Rwandan refugees, Sanga rose to the top through hard work and was on the fast track to grand wealth, but instead chose to pursue social entrepreneurship because of a passion and desire to serve his fellow man, the level of which I have never seen or heard of in my life. Through my experience with Sanga, I learned that practical skills and innovative ideas must be coupled with an unconquerable passion to serve.
Here is how my definition has evolved thus far, and I know that at my young age it is only going to transform even more with new experiences and new people, and honestly I am excited for that change.