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What is a Social Entrepreneur?

We often get asked the question, “What is a social entrepreneur?” and it is not an easy question to answer. Last week, James and Cassie attended a session at the Teach For America alumni event in Boston this weekend where Harvard Business School professor Stacey Childress shared the definition that they use in the classroom:

“A ‘Social Entrepreneur’ is one who pursues opportunities to create pattern-breaking social change without regard for the resources that she/he can currently control.”

She explained that where as traditional nonprofits had sought to meet community needs by institutionalizing support systems for those in need, social entrepreneurs generally endeavor to change the way the world itself works in an attempt to root out the primary causes of social ills. They will not rest until they have done this, and they will rarely stop to consider if they have the necessary funding, capacity, workforce or support to get something done. They just dive in and get to it.

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