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The need for social entrepreneurship in South Africa

Naseerah Nanabhai | naseerahnanabhai@gmail.com

1 min read | 16:00

With 31% of the country’s population living below the national poverty line, low national skill and education levels, a high HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, high crime rates, and limitations in essential service provision, South Africa is considered to be one of the world’s most unequal countries. These institutional voids subsequently lead to increased activation of social enterprises.

Social entrepreneurship involves initiating and running businesses for the greater social good and not just in the pursuit of profits. Social entrepreneurs commonly seek to produce environmentally friendly products, serve an underserved community, or focus on philanthropic activities.

Social entrepreneurship has quite a long history in South Africa and is still widespread today. With initiatives such as SiyaBuddy, Ebonoko Foundation, Repurpose Schoolbags, and Maths Centre South Africa, holding social entrepreneurship flags high.

For social entrepreneurship to be important successful qualities need to be met. These include deep empathy, allowing entrepreneurs to understand the problem. Innovation is to approach new ways of solving problems. A systematic view that changes the mindset towards culture or policies. A sustainable approach allows the plan in place to reach the goal. Also, most importantly, it involves changemakers with a vision to change a problem.

Starting a social enterprise is not easy. Many social entrepreneurs face challenges in accessing funding to create a sustainable social entrepreneurship venture, turning a profit while still making a positive social impact, and competing with larger enterprises.

While social entrepreneurship may take different forms, it is essential in any society, but more so for unequal ones like in South Africa. Strong social entrepreneurship efforts can help build a social innovation movement that transforms society into a more just, sustainable, and equitable world.

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