Jobs Climate Encouraging Social Entrepreneurship

June 19, 2012; Source: Washington Post

A Washington Post article suggests that the current jobs climate may be spurring a new crop of social entrepreneurs. Struggling with either job loss or increased hours in the wake of permanent layoffs at their company, a greater number of people are trying to bring their work and social community life together, according to David Hodgson of the private equity outfit General Atlantic and Echoing Green, one of many foundations offering fellowships to new social entrepreneurs trying to launch new hybrid ventures.

In addition to Echoing Green, the new crop of hybrid organizations is being pushed by a variety of different groups, including George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and USAID’s recent partnership with the Skoll Foundation. What we don’t know is if, as Hodgson suggests, there will be a continuum of social enterprises, with some being profitable enough to attract venture capital, or if, as Muhammad Yunus has argued, social enterprises are best left as social businesses with little expectation for financial return on investment and greater focus on the social mission of the business. In either case, what seems certain is that the lines between nonprofit and for-profit organizations will continue to be blurred. –Michelle Shumate