As the number of social startups continues to increase on a yearly basis, they are driven by charismatic leaders and entrepreneurs dedicated to implementing their visions for the benefit of society. Not everyone is cut out for the heavy responsibility of a social entrepreneur, and even the most dedicated and driven people come up short in a highly competitive industry.
Integrity and trust are often some of the most vital characteristics shared by successful entrepreneurs. Leading by example is an effective way to gain the confidence and respect of stakeholders, and by putting their money where their mouth is, social entrepreneurs can show that they are willing to set an example by diving in headfirst. This will help instill a valuable sense of accountability, and ensure that the company’s values align with those of their actions.
Effective leaders also have a keen eye for surrounding themselves with quality talent that will help promote their brand to the next level. Conversely, they can quickly adapt when a part of the team isn’t functioning up to their standards.
Social entrepreneurs are also characterized by innovative ideas and a progressive vision, often willing to challenge the infrastructure in place with more effective and scalable solutions designed to bring more power and resources to the people that need them most. By building a well-integrated team that is fully aligned and buys into the corporate mission, these leaders will drive their organizations towards achieving a common goal.
The leaders of tomorrow
Bill Drayton became one of the pioneers of social entrepreneurship when he founded a non-governmental organization (NGO) called Ashoka in 1980. Ashoka seeks out promising social entrepreneurs and provides support in the form of the Ashoka Fellowship, which grants them access to an extensive network ofcolleagues and potential partners.
Drayton’s visions helped provide entrepreneurs with critical resources from which they could expand their platforms, while Ashoka served as a continually evolving source of knowledge and learning for everyone involved. In 2013, 87% of entrepreneurs agreed that the NGO played a significant role in maximizing the impact of their visions, with another 49% stating that Ashoka boosted the effectiveness of their efforts. The organization continues to promote their endeavors by partnering up with schools, universities, corporations, and others in order to improve social welfare by the wide implementation and adaptation to new ideologies that have proven to be effective.
A platform for the masses
The cause-related marketing firm, Exponential, Inc. (XPO²), is the brainchild of French-American entrepreneur, Dom Einhorn. XPO² runs an impact investing platform that required an upfront capital investment exceeding US$1 million, in addition to a large, ongoing cash infusion from Einhorn himself. The crowdfunding startup promotes NGOs and social champions around the world, giving these small and medium-sized organizations access to powerful marketing and promotional services provided at the expense of XPO².