Guide to Social Entrepreneurship and Peacebuilding

Dear Colleagues

Greetings. In recent years there has been a virtual explosion in the field of social entrepreneurship. According to Ashoka, one of the pioneering organizations in the field, Social entrepreneurs are, "..individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change." (see

While there is some confusion of the term social entrepreneur (as there is with the term peacebuilding), in general I define the term as individuals and organization who are using innovative tools and processes to facilitate wide-scale social change in diverse social sectors. One of the critical factors in defining who is and isn't a social entrepreneur is the idea of scaling up change to affect larger systems and dynamics. Thus, if someone is developing an innovative idea in a community and having success in reducing conflict, or improving public health or education, scaling up might be taking the process or ideas/national or at least expanding to other sectors of the country.

Social entrepreneurs are also committed change makers and seek to effect change and generate the resources to do so through innovative means. Many peacebuilders working to reduce conflict, change systems and change power relations can fit the category of social entrepreneurs and vice-versa.

A number of people also equate the concept of social entrepreneurship with the idea of applying business type principles to social change or non-profits. That is to maximize impact, efficiency and developing strong tools of measurement and accountability.

Peacebuilders and individuals working in similar fields can learn a great deal from the field of social entrepreneurship and vice-versa. Some of the questions/themes we might want to consider as peacebuilders include:

Scaling up - How can the work that is being done be scaled up to have an impact at a larger level? How can this be done in a culturally appropriate and ethical manner?

Innovation - Are the tools that peacebuilders innovative? Are we doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results? Or are we seeking ways of innovating and learning from other innovative practices around the world?

Sustainability - There is extensive discussion of the importance of sustainability in peacebuilding. However in reality many projects are efforts may not be as sustainable as possible? Oneof the questions here is peacebuilding a business? A calling? Do peacebuilders have the right to earn a decent living? What happens as the field becomes professionalized?

I don't want to insinuate that peacebuilding should be done as a business (although I think it is critically important to be aware as the field has professionalized it is becoming a business for diverse sectors), but do want to encourage people to reflect on the possible lessons from social entrepreneurship (and also the challenges).

Here are some of the key organizations in social entreprenuership (many of which also operate at the intersection of peacebuilding).

ASHOKA - is the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs—men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. One of their core activities is electing fellows (innovative social entrepreneurs) from around the world. Ashoka also maintains the Changemakers site, which is an Internet-based site that hosts competitions on innovative social entrepreneur solutions to critical social and policy issues.

SKOLL FOUNDATION -drives large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and other innovators dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems. One of their projects is the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship which provides funding (including organizations working on peace and conflict). The foundation also mantains the site Social Edge , which has extensive information on social entrepreneur opportunities

- Each year, the organization awards 20 two-year fellowships to social entrepreneurs. Fellows receive up to $90,000 in seed funding and technical support to turn their innovative ideas into sustainable social change organizations.

ACUMEN FUND Supports entrepreneurial approaches to solving global poverty by providing a blueprint for building financially sustainable and scalable organizations that deliver affordable, critical goods and services to the poor.

THE NEW HEROES - WHAT IS SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP - A useful site from the Public Broadcasting Service
exploring some key individuals and organizations in the field.

GLOBAL GIVING provides an open, thriving marketplace that connects people who have community and world-changing ideas with people who can support them.

What are Other Useful Resources you would Suggest?

Views: 4078

Tags: Funding, Impact, Organizations, Peacebuilding, Scaling Up, Social Entrepreneurship


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Comment by Talia Hagerty on February 28, 2014 at 3:56pm

Thx Craig! I'm very keen to see social entrepreneurship prioritize peacebuilding efforts right up there with development, WASH, the environment, etc. If anyone would like to dialogue/collaborate/brainstorm/whatever on this topic, please do send me a message.

My consulting practice is a peacebuilding social enterprise :)

Comment by Hussain Mujahid on January 2, 2014 at 1:43am
People Empowering & Development Alternatives (PEDA) is an innovative independent, non-political and non-governmental social enterprise aims in providing alternative solutions to non-profit and public institutions on improvement in efficiency, quality and impact. We have niche in post conflict crises/disaster and challenging environments working with community, government institutions, humanitarian/development partners, and private sectors actors.
Comment by Marie on January 1, 2014 at 4:39am
Comment by valerie yule on May 25, 2013 at 8:12pm
See http/ (Note, 'home', not 'www')
for webpage of the Australian Centre for Social Inventions, founded 1991
for non-profit ideas on social inventing, lifestyle, politics, economics, education, literacy, spelling, writing systems, change in writing systems.
Contribute your own ideas and projects
Read about hundreds of other ideas and project.
Comment by Marie on May 25, 2013 at 7:52pm

The Amani Institute!!!

Comment by JOHN GEORGE SEMBUYAGI on September 11, 2011 at 5:59am

Mr. Craig I do appreciate your work for struggling to make life of majority being better. 

Comment by SONE HENRY KWENE on September 11, 2011 at 4:43am

Craig,i will appeal to all to check on this website that is using mobile phone text messages other social networks to sensitize communities, youth groups to build their capacity on agroforestry methods of farming known for its economic and environmental importance.We encourage the planting of the curative Moringa oleifera tree that generate income, fertilize the soil, retain water, increase the production capacity of crops, provide nutrient to the people, provide money and food security and at the same giving solution to degraded areas, generating permanent afforestation and mitigating climate change.Our organization Rural Development Foundation(RUDEFO),

Comment by SONE HENRY KWENE on September 11, 2011 at 4:10am

Craig, is great to some of us. Your explanation has change and expose me to many avenues. I appreciates all what you said. thanks. 

Comment by Martha Nalubega Wandera on September 10, 2011 at 5:26pm

Dear Craig,

Thanks for raising this very salient concept.  I appreciate that this is a new concept that we are all still struggling to understand.  In my opinion, Social entrepreneurs are one of the so many players in development who make a difference by creating social value using their entrepreneurial skills and knowledge in a sustainable manner.  A good example is Maka Pad in Uganda that produces low cost biodegradable sanitary towels.  Rather than giving hand outs, Maka Pad has created jobs for women to produce this pad in their homes while promoting education of the girl child in rural communities of Uganda!

Comment by Impact Creators (Awa) on April 29, 2010 at 12:40am
Wonderful and timely resource Craig, it will go a long way to help with my social entreprise, Impact Creators.

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