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4 Ways How Social Entrepreneurs Can Identify Social Problems That Need To Be Solved

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In a previous post, I wrote about ‘non-profit’ minded individuals who feel they have a ‘calling’ to make a difference in our society. A majority of them take part in solving society problems either through an existing charity organisation or establishing their own non-profitable organisations. Unlike with charity organisations, social entrepreneurs may use various organisations’ models which are either non-profit, for-profit or hybrid. A notable element about social entrepreneurs, is their ability to exercise their entrepreneurial spirit by providing innovative solutions to social problems, contribute to the betterment of humanity as well as making profits.

(Find out what who a social entrepreneur is and what social entrepreneurship is all about here)

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Social entrepreneurship is not primarily about making money. It’s about prioritising and making social impact a core business and then building a business model around it. With this in mind, an organisation can generate revenues and still have significant sustainable benefits for the society.

So how do you get started off as a social entrepreneur?

Roughly, to get started off as a social entrepreneur it is important to identify and understand the specific type of problem that you would like to solve. Similar to traditional entrepreneurship, you may want to consider your passion, talent and the set of skills that might be of benefit to solve that particular problem.  I like to emphasise on  the importance of understanding the problem you would like to solve as it helps you to come up with solutions or ideas on how to approach and solve that particular issue. You might then decide on whether to establish your own social enterprise or get involved with a social enterprise that already exists within your community. (if there be any)

So how do you identify a problem you would like to solve?

Volunteer

Find out if there is an organization in your community that is already addressing that particular issue that concerns you and volunteer your time working there. This will help you to understand the problem deeper and you will get the chance to know the different approaches to address that particular problem. Do you need help in finding volunteer opportunities? Depending on your location, you might want to check out the following VolunteerMatch or Idealist

Enquire about the problem from individuals

Depending on the situation and the problem, sometimes it helps to have a conversation and talk to individuals who are familiar with the situation, either because they are facing or have faced that particular problem you would like to help solve.

The Media

The obvious ways may be through radio, local newspapers, watching news, social media and latest headlines hitting our television screens especially about the global political problems and natural disasters. You can always pay keen attention about a problem you care to solve and find out how you can help.

Your personal experience

Have you ever faced a problem and did not know how to solve it and wished someone came to your rescue at that particular time? These problems could range from anything to education, Poverty, hunger, Transport, health, homelessness, wildlife?

Find out more information about Innovators and social entrepreneuers solving social problems here

Why More Women Should Take Up Leadership Roles

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In a previous post, i mentioned a study conducted by Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) and Deloitte LLP, which shows the importance of diversity and inclusion in the work place and why managers should consider this issue as an important aspects in order to remain competitive and be successful. TechCrunch, matters of diversity and inclusion continue to be a hot topic in the Silicon Valley and various Tech industries, where leaders in male dominated industries, are now beginning to see the need to see more women being represented across the industry.

Up until now, women are have been undervalued. And in corporations, it’s no longer a secret that that the majority of employees who are often exposed to discrimination are women. Discrimination in the work place comes in all forms. It’s starts in the hiring process, then to the kind of jobs women have to do, down to the wages. In terms of promotion, climbing the ‘career ladder’ is not easy for women as it is for the men. Women must work a lot harder to get to the top. The situation is even worse for mothers (including single mothers) especially,  are sole bread winners for their families. They face inequality and discrimination based on their family responsibilities. Of course mothers, have other little ‘lives’  and household chores to take care of. But i like to think of it as ‘unpaid work as political economist Marilyn Waring, and a professor of public policy at the Institute of Public Policy at AUT University in Auckland, as Marilyn Waring, a political economist described it which indeed is also important for the economic development.

It is true that women are not only undervalued, they are also under-represented in almost all kinds industries, politics, management levels and leadership roles. Company boards are dominated by males. The list is long, how a lot of business organisations continuously create impediments for the full realization of women’s potential. Women continue to face limitation for their upward mobility in all angles of life. And honestly there is need for change.  A more demonstrative article on the issue of gender imbalance can be found on the Huffington post

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Why do we have very few women taking up leadership roles in organisations? Aren’t they just as qualified as their male collegues? In an article for New York Times which  which Sheryl Sandberg,  the chief operating officer of Facebook and Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania co-wrote, they explain about common gender stereotypes which are main reasons that women are considered less competent for certain job positions even though women are equally qualified for those positions.

Fact remains that, when companies undervalue women’s work in any form work, they are neglecting labour that sustains lives and putting women in vulnerable positions. Denying women access to certain to certain types of occupations in industries and management positions in the corporations should be a thing of the past. In their article on Discrimination at Work, Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg  further emphasise on the  need to speak up and act against ‘imbalances’ in leaderships roles. Infact in their article, i agree with them that  when women are in the top management positions, business organisations are likely to be innovative and profitable. On a separate Ted Talk on “Why we have too few women leaders”, Sheryl Sandberg  passes across a very inspiring message. One of the most powerful messages she talks about, is on the kind of messages individuals need to be telling themselves in order to stay in the work force. And to the women, she encourages them not to understimate their own abilities.

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Wall Street And Pope Francis

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Pontiff’s scepticism about capitalism may not have been everyone’s favourite topic. Atleast not to the ‘solely money and profit’ minded people. But i am glad more financial professionals are beginning to spot the need to show concern about human welfare and advancement. Some may wonder, “Why much effort to focus on showing love for humanity in a world where showing some compassion is close to none?” The answer is right there-” It’s starts with you, anywhere, anytime!” It’s starts with everyone. I agree, this may may not be easy as it sounds, especially in a world where people are mostly profit oriented and all that matters to most is money, power, technology and materials. Inequality in today’s society and the growing gap between the rich and the poor is no news to our ears. The imbalance of distribution of wealth is sharply visible.

Nevertherless, Pope Francis criticism on money and wealth matters is a reflection of what he himself has already gone through. I like to think that he is preaching what he practices and vice versa. This for example is reflected in the case of the Vatican Bank (also known as ‘The Institute For the Works of Religion (IOR)’ ), where the private bank was linked to money laundering, financing terrorism and tax evasion. Pope Francis worked further on the reform efforts started by his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI to ensure that the bank was complying with international banking standards and other transparency rules. Among his actions, he also replaced many bank’s advisors and to mend it’s secretive ways. Although Pope Francis went beyond making the bank more open in its business dealings and changing its mission to emphasize helping the poor, the best economic news were that the private bank tremendously improved and is making huge profits.

(More on ‘Reforming The Vatican Bank’ can be found on the Huffington Post)

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Indeed, the Pope’s criticism was warmly welcome by a few financial institutions professionals at the wall street.  Of course this is not to say that they waited until the Pope said something. In fact, certain corporations and  financial instituitions had already started doing this. And through his criticism on this issue, many more are now slowly taking part in philanthropy and social investments and are striving to impact the society in a positive way. More organisations are taking part in the sustainable social investments. In fact when it comes to investment banks and financial institution catering for the poor and needy, i like to give a practical example of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women. I followed up on their citizenship program especially in underserved economies like Africa and parts of  Asia and South America, where the instituition  empowered women entrepreneurs in Africa by giving them access to an educational training and enabled them to start sustainable businesses.

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On another article by K.J. McElrath, i  fully agree with the author that Pope Francis actions of eliminating a few traditional practices in the banking industry is simply a way of sending a strong message to the for-profit banking industry, to show them that profit making and considering the needs of  low-income people can be done without oppressing them. In third world countries, even though micro finances are proving that banking with the poor can be successful, i strongly believe the traditional banking institutions should rethink their ways of catering for the underserved economies and aggressively take part in addressing the issues of poverty and social justice.