Social entrepreneurship – doing business in a way that serves society

Traditional entrepreneurship tends to be about businesses serving their own interests, with the goal being financial profit. It rarely focuses on human rights, environmental protection or limited resources. Social entrepreneurship proves that there is an alternative way to do things.

Social entrepreneurs are focused on finding innovative, long-term solutions to challenges within society. Their activities include fighting poverty, discrimination and racism, upholding human rights, protecting the environment and developing their business in a socially-responsible manner.

Fair jobs at fair companies and in the area of social entrepreneurship

Fair companies have a social goal: to stop exploiting the 'intern generation'. In practical terms this means not replacing full-time positions with interns, and providing reasonable pay for internships. Social entrepreneurship has similar qualities, but goes one step further. Social entrepreneurship is about combining entrepreneurship with social awareness, thereby helping to transform society. Respecting democratic rights, individual freedom and human dignity is a key part of this. But how do you finance projects that are not focused on profit, and what does this look like in reality?

Norbert Kunz, a social entrepreneur from Germany

Norbert Kunz is one of the social entrepreneurs in Germany. With his agency for social innovation, ‘iq consult’, he helps people who would otherwise have few prospects on the job market to start their own businesses – those with no school qualifications or training. The team takes a comprehensive approach here. It provides financial planning support and advises new entrepreneurs before, during and after the process of setting up their business. In addition to social entrepreneurs, the agency supports inclusive, cultural and youth entrepreneurs with their business ideas.

Norbert Kunz is the managing director of iq consult, a social innovation agency working in the areas of start-up support, regional development, and inclusive and social entrepreneurship. A qualified banker and economics teacher, he co-founded the German Microfinance Institute and the company stattauto Carsharing AG, Berlin.

  • Ashoka Fellow since 2007
  • Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 (Schwab Foundation)
  • Member of the Global Agenda Council on Social Innovation and the European  Commission Expert Group on Social Business

Deusche Welle: Social Entrepreneur Norbert Kunz

Social entrepreneurship receives targeted funding

For instance in order to fund their projects and network with others, social entrepreneurs take part in competitions. Norbert Kunz has done so, and successfully too. He was named 'Social Entrepreneur of the Year' by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship  in 2010. He is finding new contacts and funding opportunities as a result of the coverage of the competition and its winners. Social entrepreneurs also receive financial and material support from venture capitalists, corporate partnerships, public funding, donations and organisations committed to funding social entrepreneurship.

The largest and most well-known of these organisations is probably Ashoka. The international charitable organisation has launched programmes in over 60 countries around the world and is currently supporting some 3,000 ‘fellows’ (outstanding entrepreneurs), in some cases with grants. Norbert Kunz is one of these fellows and it is pleasing to see that an increasing number of entrepreneurs in Germany are following his example.

About Ashoka

Ashoka is a social investor that has been looking for and supporting social entrepreneurs in over 70 countries since 1980. These women and men solve social problems with creative, exemplary concepts.

Related links

Read more about fair companies and social responsibility in the article "Employee satisfaction is a quantifiable success factor at fair company erecon AG' on the Alumniportal Deutschland.


Author: Miriam Moser

November 2012

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