Why the Way We Think About Social Entrepreneurship Needs to Change

Social entrepreneurship is changing the face and meaning of social work worldwide. Latin America is leading the charge in the development of new models of private involvement in social work and in the creation of a new class of socially minded innovators that is radically affecting the lives of those who need it most in the continent. This is a fascinating and exciting time for the region as it finds novel and creative solutions to its social problems.

In this context, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center hosted economist Sonal Shah for a discussion on Social Impact Entrepreneurship Thursday the 26th of June as part of its third event for its Social Impact Entrepreneurship Initiative. The conversation, carried out with Washington’s leaders in social entrepreneurship and policy, emphasized the need for a fundamental change in the way of thinking about Social Entreprenuership worldwide.

Three main points were underscored during the event:

  1. The need for a change in the traditional approach to social work towards a model that embraces social entrepreneurship and fosters its development. Such a change in approach is needed to correct issues with the current approach to social work in the United States. These include burdening taxation and regulatory systems and a tendency to fund large numbers of non-profit organizations as opposed to focusing on scaling the impact of successful initiatives.
  2. Looking for examples of social entrepreneurship abroad would help the United States revamp its own model of socially minded work. Shah believes that ” the most interesting” models of social entrepreneurship are being developed abroad and believes that the United States would do well to learn from these innovative models.
  3. The United States should look toward Latin America for examples of creative and innovative ways of doing social entrepreneurship. The examples of Brazil, Peru and Colombia were highlighted as great models that could inform the way in which models of social entrepreneurship are thought about domestically.

Improving the way in which we think about social entrepreneurship domestically will have far reaching consequences worldwide as more effective models of social work are developed and their impact is scaled. With its Social Impact Entrepreneurship initiative, the Atlantic Council’s Latin America Center looks to take a leading role in informing this transformation by shepherding the creation of a new conversation on social entrepreneurship that brings together social entrepreneurs and policymakers from the United States and Latin America.