Putting your mission before the business is a backwards strategy for success. 

Many social entrepreneurs focus on their mission and hope that this will motivate people to come onboard. However, a social business without a strong business strategy  will struggle to succeed.

6 You have your passion for change.

6You have an idea to make that change.

19You know what you want to do and believe that if you Just Do it! things will work out .. somehow.


Having your social goal front and centre isn’t enough – while it will be a prime motivator, it can make you focus on the wrong thing. The fact is  you have to deliver something that people want.

To make positive social change on any meaningful scale  social entrepreneurs need to seriously investigate  “Is there  demand for what I’m selling?”

Robin Chase, the founder and former CEO of car-rental company Zipcar and the founder of peer-to-peer car rental company Buzzcar  says she was criticized for not making the company non-profit. Chase knew she would need significant capital to get Zipcar off the ground and a for-profit business model allowed her to take on investors and raise capital.

“In the venture capital community, they say: ‘Will the dog eat the dog food?’ And so you are a startup and you are producing dog food, and the question is, ‘Will the dog eat the dog food?’ If you think about any social thing you are doing, if you are doing it for purely social reasons, well, then the question is: ‘Is the dog interested?'”

Chase saw Zipcar as a business first and a social enterprise second. While Zipcar gives consumers an alternative to owning a car — an inherently environmentally-friendly and therefore classically social entrepreneurship type of endeavor – that’s not why people buy into the Zipcar model.

“Consumers, or collaborators, will buy a service because it delivers to them what they need in their self-interest,” says Chase. In the case of Zipcar, consumers rent cars because it is more convenient and cheaper than having to maintain a car.

So, whether you are trying to save the planet, feed the hungry, house the poor or create jobs – you need a business strategy that helps you deliver on your mission.




Be the Change!

Are you  a changemaker?

IMG_1087Changemakers are people who catalyse social change.  They strive to be the change they want to see in the world, to make an impact for good. Changemakers want to make change happen. They do that by being active in their communities, starting their own projects and building the capacity of  local communities to bring about that change.

My early conversations with social entrepreneurs are often about great life affirming, life changing  ideas. All that enthusiasm for change has to be channeled into a framework that allows you to test your ideas, to make them a reality and it can be hard to know where to start.

So here are some key lessons you need to understand that will help you put your ideas into action:

1.  Follow Your Passion

You will be most successful if you are passionate about the issue you want to change.
Angels for the Forgottenwas started by Melina Skidmore, a young Australian woman who grew up in State Care . Melina understood first hand how tough it can be for young people in care, and especially the challenges they face when moving out of the government’s care system to independent living once  reaching their 16th birthday. Angels is now operating in several communities in Australia, addressing local social needs and Melina has received national recognition for her work as as a Social Entrepreneur.

2.) Think laterally

Thinking outside the square leads to amazing outcomes

An inspiring example of this is  Bart Weetjens. Bart is an Ashoka Fellow  pioneering a new method of de-mining and diagnosing tuberculosis through his organization APOPO: They train rats to sniff landmines and diseases, and empower locals in the affected regions on how to use the use the rats, creating new jobs along the way.  We aren’t all faced with the daunting challenges that Bart is addressing, but what amazing connections he has made between unrelated fields.

3.) Work with communities
Jonathon Welsh OAM and the Choir of Hope and Inspiration  use the power of community to build personal growth and connection, transforming the lives of homeless and socially isolated in Melbourne and beyond.  Jonathon’s work with the then  Choir of Hard Knocks was documented in an Australian ABC TV Documentary series in 2007. Jonathon established Social Inclusion Week  as a way of sharing his ideas across Australian communities and to inspire local changemakers.

4. Believe in Yourself!

You have to understand the foundations of community leadership, of inspiring loyalty and the art of building a team.

Kate and  Steven at   SocialDeck  have launched the IdeasHoist to showcase Australians who are making things happen!  Check out more than 150 inspiring stories from around the country, and find the changemakers living close to you.

5. Be resilient

You have to be able to hang in there, because generating change is hard work.

Not everyone sees your ideas as brilliantly as you do! Here’s another Ashoka example – do you think you could step into Nada’s shoes?

Nada and her team for the venture ‘YouTeach Science Van’ have defied all odds in creating their own organization that shares science demonstrations, experiments, and fun facts with young students. Even amidst Egypt’s political turmoil, they are still pushing their work to foster a sense of love of learning in young students with the belief that education is now more important than ever.

Need some more inspiration to get you started?

Check out this great read! Lauire-Ann Thompson’s Be a Changemaker

Be a Changemaker

When Divine Bradley was seventeen, he just wanted a safe place to hang out away from gangs and violence,         and Team Revolution was born. At age eleven, Jessica Markowitz learned that girls in Rwanda are often not         allowed to attend school, and Richard’s Rwanda took shape. During his sophomore year of high school, Zach        Steinfeld put his love of baking to good use and started the Baking for Breast Cancer Club.

Gone are the days when kids were supposed to be “seen and not heard.” Today, youth everywhere are rising up, building new organizations, and creating the changes they want to see in their communities and around the world. Be a Changemaker gives readers the tools and confidence they need to effect real change. Readers will learn how to:

  • Research ideas
  • Build a strong and passionate team
  • Create a business plan
  • Enlist a savvy adult
  • Plan events
  • Work with the media
  • And more!

Plus, profiles of youth-led social organizations show readers that it’s never too early to become a changemaker.





The NSW Government has released its Social Impact Investment Policy

The NSW Government has released its Social Impact Investment Policy

The policy outlines 10 actions the Government will take to:

  • deliver more social impact investment transactions
  • grow the market and remove barriers
  • build the capacity of market participants.

The policy builds on NSW’s social benefit bonds, which were implemented in 2013. The bonds fund two services – one delivered by UnitingCare Burnside and one by The Benevolent Society – that work with vulnerable families to prevent children from entering out-of-home care or safely return children in care to their families.

A key commitment in the policy is to aim to bring two transactions to market each year. These will not be limited to social benefit bonds. The Government is open to other investment models that involve risk sharing among participants. To help the market prepare for this year’s transactions, the Government also:

  • released a Statement of Opportunities 2015, which identifies the Government’s priority areas for the next transactions and the process for their development
  • announced a series of market sounding events for interested parties to get more information on the priority areas.

The Government also announced the Expert Advice Exchange, delivered in partnership with Sydney’s leading law firms, to provide pro-bono legal advice for non-profits and social enterprises that want to participate in social impact investment.

The NSW Government believes that social impact investment offers opportunities to improve outcomes for the people of NSW by encouraging innovation and partnerships with other sectors. It also has a focus on measuring and achieving results so the Government can be confident of investing in services that work.


The Climate Leader -understanding responses to climate change

The Climate Leader is a free introductory training series in systems thinking to help fuel the global response to climate change. Through a series of 11 videos and additional materials this series will help you to be more effective at addressing climate change by enabling you to see the interconnections and big picture in your work.

Designed for people unfamiliar with systems thinking fundamentals like feedback loops, leverage points, and causal diagramming, this can be a launching point to a whole new way of looking at the world.



Social Impact Investment Knowledge Hub

The NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet is home to a Knowledge Hub and Community of Practice on Social Impact Investment.Social Impact Investment Knowledge Hub banner image






This is a valuable resource for everyone interested in how governments approach the issue of Social Impact Investment.

The Office of Social Impact Investment (OSII) is a joint team of the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) and the NSW Treasury. The office has been established as an initiative of the NSW Government to facilitate growth in the social impact investment market.

The OSII oversees and leads the implementation of the NSW Social Impact Investment Policy, working closely with other government agencies and non-government stakeholders. Key elements of this work include developing new social impact investment transactions and helping to build the capability and capacity of agencies and others to participate in the social impact investment market.

They support the NSW Social Impact Expert Advisory Group and work closely with the Australian Advisory Board on Impact Investing to align and coordinate our activities with other governments and stakeholders.

They are the central point of contact in the NSW Government for government agencies and non-government organisations that want to investigate social impact investment opportunities.

Email the Office of Social Impact Investment or call

+61 2 9228 5333.

To keep up to date – follow them on Twitter : @NSWOSSI

So, you’d like to start your own business creating social impact?

This article was written by Commongood Careers and is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 2.5 License.http://www.commongoodcareers.org

A socially entrepreneurial organization (SEO) takes the goal of creating social impact to a new level by using innovative methods to organize, manage and measure a venture.  If you’re looking to make high impact in the social change arena and have a new, enterprising plan on how to do it, starting your own SEO could be a great choice for success.  In this article, we give you some tips on how to start a SEO that can survive, thrive, and even change the world.

The Emerging Field

The idea of social entrepreneurship is not new.  The legacy of social entrepreneurs even reaches back to include historical figures like Florence Nightengale and Theodore Roosevelt. However, the term “social entrepreneur” became much more widespread in the 1980s, and today the movement is picking up more speed than ever.

“[Today’s social entrepreneurs] have such an opportunity. There are no hard and fast rules.  It’s a whole new kind of hybrid world that brings together the best of both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors,” said Jerr Boschee, Executive Director of The Institute for Social Entrepreneurs and Visiting Professor of the Practice in Social Enterprise at Carnegie Mellon University.

The growth of this movement stems from the realization that “successful social entrepreneurs possess the same competencies as traditional business entrepreneurs, such as the abilities to plan strategically, manage people and programs, and measure results,” said Chaula Kothari, Director of Teach For America’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative. These skills applied to SEOs create stronger, more sustainable organizations that assess their impact in tangible ways, and with excellent results.

Social Enterprise vs. Social Innovation

In the emerging world of SEOs, there are near limitless options for exploration, but two basic directions from which to approach them.  These are social enterprise and social innovation.  The differences are mostly in emphasis and final execution, although both rely on best practices, measurable results, and a socially-connected bottom line to drive their organizations.

Starting a social enterprise “is not all that different from starting a business,” said Boschee.  A social enterprise is generally a venture whose ultimate purpose is social good and that advances and supports its social mission through a revenue generating mechanism guided by entrepreneurial principles.  It does not rely on fundraising or other more traditional nonprofit areas of revenue.

Social enterprises take many forms and are becoming more and more prevalent.  Hot Bread Kitchen, for example, is a bakery that promotes independence and growth for immigrant women by creating professional opportunities for immigrant women as bakers.  The bakery sells various breads and rolls and then uses the profits to pay a competitive wage to its workers, as well as encourage its employees to start their own businesses.

Social innovators, on the other hand, start new organizations with the idea of systemic change that they use to create a sustainable organization. This can lead to organizations with better practices, more efficient management, and higher impact.  While sometimes social innovators take an existing nonprofit and begin thinking in new ways to come up with systemic changes, Boschee said, much social innovation starts from scratch.

Social innovators fill a societal need not already addressed or take a new approach to meeting a need that is currently insufficiently addressed.  For example, the Education for Democracy Foundation is a cooperative effort between Polish and American pro-democratic educators to promote knowledge of democracy and provide skills for civic activity in a democratic state.  The organization gathers groups of between 10-15 volunteers, mainly made up of teachers, who are taught how to address both specific democratic issues as well as broader civic participation concerns in a training that takes the course of a year.

“The idea isn’t to adhere slavishly to either a social innovation or social enterprise model,” Boschee continued.  “The real challenge is to discover which one of them is the best approach for meeting a specific social need.”

Five Steps to Starting Your Own SEO

As a starting point, here are five concrete steps to help you plan to launch a socially entrepreneurial organization:

1) Clarify your objectives — Consider the ultimate goal of this SEO.  What social need will it meet and how will it meet it?  They should be issues that you are passionate about and that you really believe in.

2) Find a balance — Always keep in mind that the success of your SEO relies on a balance between sustainable social change endeavors and sustainable business practices.  What balance will make your organization most successful?

3) Research the field — Learn from the people who have come before you and don’t limit yourself in the scope of your research.  See how other organizations and businesses, whether public or private, have used innovative methods.  Try to learn from their mistakes.  Make contacts and consider partnerships if it is appropriate.  (For a unique conversation about failed social ventures, look at a recent discussion on Social Edge)

4) Understand your market
— It is essential to have a good understanding of the market for your product or service if you hope to make an impact.  Know who you will be serving and what they really need.  Always make sure what you are providing is something that the people you will be serving need.

5) Know your numbers
— Understand at least the basics of managing the finances your organization will be working with.  An ambitious vision for your organization will certainly get you somewhere, but if you don’t have a clear understanding of what makes your organization work financially, you won’t be able to plan strategically or make complete decisions.  (For a comprehensive list of FAQs about nonprofit finance management visit CompassPoint’s Nonprofit Genie)

Some Expert Advice

Starting your own SEO has some solid steps, but it also takes much more than simply following any single process.  Kothari and Boschee both say there are a few things that transcend the basic how-to of starting a SEO.

“If you plan to start your own organization, you need to be absolutely committed to and happy with what you are doing,” Kothari commented.  “If you’re not happy to take on the challenges that come with starting your own organization, you will not do a good job of helping others.”

Boschee agreed, saying “don’t do it unless it is literally the most exciting thing in your life.”  A passion for the mission and the work of an organization is what makes it most successful.

“However, be candid with yourself if the results are not really there,” Boschee added.  There is an important balance between passion for continuing a mission and understanding when to move on from a venture.

Ultimately, today’s social entrepreneurs have the opportunity to take advantage of the exciting changes in the nonprofit sector.  They have the chance to be innovative and make a difference in the world in a way that is promising and fresh.  “Social entrepreneurs look at social need with a new set of lenses,” Boschee said. “There are no rules for today’s social entrepreneurs.  They can be the trailblazers.”