Investing in Social Entrepreneurship and Fostering Social Innovation

Publication Date: December 2007

Publisher: Center for American Progress

Author(s): Michele Jolin

Research Area: Social conditions

Type: Report


Over the past decade or more, “social entrepreneurs” have been a leading force in innovation, experimentation, and change in education, health care, poverty alleviation, and other areas of human need both in the United States and around the world. Social entrepreneurs—individuals who develop innovative, results-oriented solutions to tackle serious social problems—are focused on implementing their solutions on a large scale to change an entire system, either by scaling their organization or inspiring others to replicate the idea.

Social entrepreneurs, like their counterparts in the private sector, boast unique personal characteristics that they use to successfully implement their ideas: creativity, inspiration, persistence, focus, and a willingness to take risks. Ventures created by social entrepreneurs are usually organized as non-profits, although some are for-profit but with a clear and direct social mission.