From the Skoll World Forum: Working on a Definition of Social Entrepreneurship

Mar 28, 2007, 4:10 AM, Posted by Chinwe Onyekere

There is an African proverb that states:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

This has been the underlying sentiment of the conversation at the first day of the Skoll World Forum. The world of social entrepreneurs and the field of social entrepreneurship are at an interesting point in their development. As a newbie to this world - this is my first Skoll World Forum - it is quite fascinating to hear some of the internal debates on how to establish social entrepreneurship as a field.

During both the University Network meeting (sponsored by Ashoka and the Skoll Center here at Oxford) and the opening session, there were many questions, especially about the role of academia in this space. How does one define social entrepreneurship, and what is the role of the individual social entrepreneur vs. the role of the collective?

But with all of these questions, it was clear that this field is dedicated to working together to move forward.

As someone who is gaining a better understanding how social entrepreneurs approach problems, and how this approach can work in the areas of health and health care, the first day of the meeting has been extremely helpful. I would be very interested in hearing from you as to how you think about social entrepreneurship. Is this really something new? Or is this a new term to identify a group of people who actually have been out there for while? And, finally, is the fundamental difference the focus on market-based approaches and capital in solving social issues?

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.