for social entrepreneurship

Are you a social entrepreneur?


Are you a social entrepreneur?

Social innovation takes place at many different levels of society: it is not the preserve of one specific group of people or organisations. However, research has shown that entrepreneurs belonging to the ‘social entrepreneur’ niche have specific qualities that distinguish them from their ‘mainstream’ counterparts. What are these characteristics?


With the SELUSI team we collected data in two successive years (2010 and 2011) about some 600 social businesses in five European countries. Among other things, we analysed the characteristics of the individual social entrepreneurs and examined what made them different from their mainstream colleagues. And we came to the following conclusions.

Social entrepreneurs: 
•    are less conformist and more ‘universalist’ than ordinary entrepreneurs
•    are consequently more receptive to society’s needs, such as environmental issues or the specific needs of old people
•    consistently identify societal needs far earlier than the rest of the market notices them
•    find themselves spearheading the response to certain needs, as a result of which they are compelled to innovate.

In short, social entrepreneurs are leaders where social innovation in products and services is concerned. They have a number of unique skills.

Particular skills of social entrepreneurs

•    A thorough insight into societal challenges

•    The ability to see opportunities for social innovation and formulate ideas with an eye to large-scale, positive societal impact and economic sustainability

•    Experience of launching radically innovative products, services and processes

•    An instinctive feel for how people behave and experience of how specific services, products or processes can harness such knowledge effectively

•    Creativity and efficiency in striking a balance between societal and economic value creation

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