Social Entrepreneurship Can Be the Answer to Our Society's Ills

Cape Times (South Africa), March 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

Social Entrepreneurship Can Be the Answer to Our Society's Ills


BYLINE: Pieter Wesselink

From the provision of quality education and youth development to wider societal issues such as the HIV/Aids pandemic, the problems faced in South Africa as it tries to get over the ravages of apartheid at times can seem to be insurmountable.

While it cannot be denied that the government needs to make an even more concerted effort to deal with these issues, we, as society at large, also have a role to play in attaining the dream we all shared back in 1994 of what South Africa would be today.

It was in this spirit Trevor Manuel, on the launch of the National Development Plan in August, said: "South Africa belongs to all its peoples. We, the people, belong to one another. We live the rainbow. Our homes, neighbourhoods, villages, towns, and cities are safe and filled with laughter. Through our institutions, we order our lives. The faces of our children tell of the future we have crafted. Ladies and gentlemen, that is our vision for South Africa in 2030, anchored in our constitution. Today, we want to remind all South Africans that it is our future, let us build it!"

In recent years we have witnessed growth in the number of NGOs, all with great intentions of doing their bit of attaining that dream of 1994.

This undeniably is a positive development. With my business background, however, I can't help but ask: as much as intentions are good, how viable and sustainable are these NGOs as a long-term solution?

The facts are simple. At the same time we have seen rapid growth in NGO initiatives, global economy has gone into freefall. For organisations dependent on generosity of particularly belt-tightening corporates and governments, this can be a crippling blow, if not a death knell.

Social entrepreneurship is a better model for making a difference in society. Like NGOs, social entrepreneurship is geared at solving a key problem. The difference between the two models is that, a social entrepreneurship initiative, as part of its operational set-up, is designed to be self-financing. Social entrepreneurship is an innovative model, which is self-sustainable and combines business discipline and rigour to social purpose and development.

An example illustrating the power of social entrepreneurship is an inspiring initiative I have become involved with: the African Brothers Football Academy.

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Social Entrepreneurship Can Be the Answer to Our Society's Ills
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