In a piece by Martin Montero, “Is Social Entrepreneurship the Rich Saving the Poor? “ he says
“Social entrepreneurship is not about elitist fellowships, conferences, summits, accelerators, coworking spaces, or contests. Social entrepreneurship is not about charity or even about philanthropy, and it’s certainly not about wealth redistribution. Social entrepreneurship is about opportunity and power distribution. “
Social Entrepreneurship is inherently a question of power and politics. Poverty is political. Law is political. Health care and education reform are political questions. In that, doing social good is not neutral. You can’t be neutral about about social issues and that often times means not being afraid to say who is in the wrong, morally, ethnically and socially.
What does that means? Ideas that don’t enhance the overall sustainability of the planet need to go. But on a deeper level, this means reconciling that changing the world is messy, dirty, it’s no different than politics…except the goal is seeing the world change for the better, not for worse. Its’ not the glamorous story of Steve Jobs or Mother Teresa impact on the world. There is a lot more to it than that.
And this is what I believe activists get right–they say what needs to be said without any pretense. They, unfortunately, stop short in the creations of new social systems but they are completely realistic about how the narrative of change should be told.
What this also means that is feel good conversations about disruptive innovations and making the world a better place maybe the refuge of those who don’t really want change. Would it be, perhaps, that social entrepreneurship can accomplish what great revolutions of the past have…without violence?
What is the great social transformation we are looking towards? Can we accept that in that process
of change often leads to chaos and changes far beyond what we would have ever imagined?
The reason I strongly urge people from marginalized and underrepresented communities to seek out
and learns ways to be entrepreneurs is this:
if you don’t solve your problems, people will solve them for you.
Often times people with no real understanding of what it is to be in your own position are the ones with the loudest voice at the table. If you don’t take a lead in showing people the historical and personal consequences and trauma brought upon your community through the oppressive actions of others, it might happen again: people enforcing upon you solutions and ideas that are not yours.
There is a real danger of making social entrepreneurship as another arm of neo-colonialism. It isn’t about believing anyone really has the answers. It’s understanding that even if you have the answers to solving the world’s toughest issues, you may not be the best person to solve it.
In my quest to democratize the field of social innovation and make the tools of social change accessible to all, it is my sincere hope that this powerful idea be understood for what it truly is: a way to bring opportunity to others and not take it away from those who need it most. And of the many ways to take power, asking permission is not one of them. May that be the lesson to underpresented peoples of the world.