Social entrepreneurs and social intrapreneurs are two different approaches to social change.The combination of commerce and social issues has created the need for new terms for people who want to make a positive change in society through initiatives that solve social problems. Both social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs have the same goal but the approach to reach those goals can be quite different. Social entrepreneurs and social intrapreneurs are both working to make a positive impact on the world.

What is a social entrepreneur? 

The answer is simple: a social entrepreneur is someone with the aim to build an enterprise to develop, implement or fund solutions to environmental, cultural or social issues. This approach successfully tackles social problems while generating a profit for shareholders. 

Risks and rewards for social entrepreneurs

Since social entrepreneurs create their own businesses and brands, the risk of failure is higher, but so is the potential return. Social entrepreneurs enjoy the freedom of choosing the purpose of their enterprises, and where to focus their efforts. Examples of this include educational programs, finance institutions or providing services and products in areas that have been overlooked or not granted access to basic essentials that are available in more developed communities.

What is an intrapreneur? 

An intrapreneur is a manager within an existing company who supports and promotes the development of innovative products. Being part of a larger business provides more stability and a lower risk, but also limits the freedom a social entrepreneur enjoys. 

Social intrapreneur, a new hybrid hero

On the rise beside social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs is a new hybrid hero: the social intrapreneur.

A social intrapreneur is an innovative thinking employee who develops a profitable new product, service or business model which creates value for society and the company they work for. As traditional business models face challenges such as slow growth in established markets and pressure from new emerging technologies, some companies see social intrapreneurship as a way to stay competitive.

What do social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs have in common?

Creating a positive change in society through initiatives that solve social problems is the driving force behind social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. 

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Examples of social entrepreneurs and social intrapreneurs:

  • Social entrepreneurs:
    • Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, which provides microcredit to poor people in Bangladesh.
    • Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, which donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold.
    • Malala Yousafzai, co-founder of the Malala Fund, which works to promote education for girls around the world.
    • Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka, a global network of social entrepreneurs.
    • Jeff Skoll, founder of Participant Media, a film and TV company that produces socially conscious content.

  • Social intrapreneurs:
    • Gary Hamel, former CEO of Procter & Gamble, who created the "Open Innovation" program, which allows the company to collaborate with external partners on new product development.
    • Ellen Kullman, former CEO of DuPont, who launched the "Sustainable Living" initiative, which aims to make the company more sustainable.
    • Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, who has made social responsibility a core part of the company's culture.
    • Anita Borg, co-founder of the Anita Borg Institute, which works to increase the participation of women in computing.
    • Dame Stephanie Shirley, founder of FDM Group, a technology consultancy that hires and trains graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds.


Challenges and rewards of social entrepreneurship:

  • Challenges:
    • Social entrepreneurs and social intrapreneurs face a number of challenges, including raising capital, attracting and retaining talent, measuring impact, and dealing with bureaucracy.
    • They may also face social challenges, such as resistance from traditional institutions or lack of support from the government.
    • Social entrepreneurs may also face personal challenges, such as burnout or stress.
  • Rewards:
    • Social entrepreneurs have the opportunity to make a real difference in the world and to help solve some of the world's most pressing problems.
    • They may also be able to build successful businesses that are profitable and sustainable.
    • Social entrepreneurs often receive a great deal of satisfaction from their work and may be recognized for their achievements with awards and honors.


Challenges and rewards of social intrapreneurship: 

  • Challenges:
    • Getting buy-in from senior management
    • Overcoming resistance from employees
    • Measuring impact
    • Balancing the needs of the business with the needs of the social cause
  • Rewards:
    • Making a positive impact on the world: Social intrapreneurs have the opportunity to use their skills and talents to make a real difference in the world from within existing organisations. They can address social and environmental problems that they are passionate about, and they can help to create a more just and equitable world.
    • Solving social problems: Social intrapreneurs can use their creativity and innovation to solve social problems. They can come up with new ways to address issues such as poverty, hunger, and climate change.
    • Achieving personal satisfaction: Social intrapreneurship can be a very rewarding experience. It can give people a sense of purpose and satisfaction knowing that they are making a difference in the world.
    • Gaining exposure and recognition within the company: Social intrapreneurship can help people to gain exposure and recognition within their company. They can build their reputation as a problem-solver and innovator, and they can position themselves for future leadership opportunities.
    • Developing new skills and knowledge: Social intrapreneurship can be a great way to develop new skills and knowledge. Social intrapreneurs need to be able to think creatively, solve problems, and work effectively with others. They also need to be familiar with the corporate world and how to navigate the bureaucracy.
    • Attracting and retaining talent: Social intrapreneurship can help companies to attract and retain top talent. Employees are increasingly looking for companies that are committed to social responsibility. By supporting social intrapreneurship, companies can demonstrate their commitment to making a difference in the world.


Skills and qualities needed for social entrepreneurship and social intrapreneurship:

  • Social entrepreneurship:
    • The ability to identify and solve social problems.
    • Need to be strong business people with a passion for social change.
    • Ability to influence and persuade others
    • Business acumen and entrepreneurial skills.
    • Leadership and teamwork skills.
    • Resilience and determination.

  • Social intrapreneurship:
    • The ability to identify and solve social problems within a corporate setting.
    • The ability to work within the corporate bureaucracy.
    • Strong communication and persuasion skills.
    • The ability to build relationships with key stakeholders.
    • A willingness to take risks.

Case studies of successful social entrepreneurs and social intrapreneurs:

  • Muhammad Yunus: Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank, a microfinance organization that provides small loans to poor people in Bangladesh. Grameen Bank has helped millions of people lift themselves out of poverty and has been recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Blake Mycoskie: Mycoskie is the founder of TOMS Shoes, a company that donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold. TOMS Shoes has donated over 100 million pairs of shoes to children around the world.
  • Malala Yousafzai: Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. She was shot by the Taliban for speaking out in favor of girls' education, but she has continued to advocate for her cause.
  • Bill Drayton: Drayton is the founder of Ashoka, a global network of social entrepreneurs. Ashoka has helped to support over 3,500 social entrepreneurs around the world.
  • Jeff Skoll: Skoll is the founder of Participant Media, a film and TV company that produces socially conscious content. Participant Media's films have won numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Social entrepreneurs club Malmö

The social entrepreneurs club in Malmö is a meet-up group of around 500 members joined together by wanting to create a positive change for society. Through a monthly exchange of knowledge the social entrepreneurs club aims to provide support for individuals and start-ups with innovative ideas. As the world faced a new situation during the 2020 pandemic, the events for the social entrepreneurs club have been a combination of virtual and in person in order to accomodate our members and be safe at the same time.. 

The idea is that anyone can start a new innovative business around the world, allowing more social businesses to be connected with each other across borders. 

Join the next event and find the support you need to bring your innovative ideas to life!

If you are someone wanting to start or scale your own business and are passionate about creating a better world through your products or services then book a time below and lets chat about how I can help you to reach your goals.