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The Qualities of a Social Entrepreneur
July 21, 2015

Juliana Rotich (Courtesy of Juliana Rotich)
Juliana Rotich’s personal mission is to make, fix and help others through technology. (Courtesy of Juliana Rotich)

A guest blog post by Juliana Rotich.

What makes a social entrepreneurship venture successful are the qualities of a social entrepreneur. The venture is founded on a philosophy of selflessness where one lends oneself to the cause of social justice for the long haul. Social entrepreneurs must have conviction, passion and dedication driving them. In big but true words, they need love and hope to sustain their effort.

Social entrepreneurship’s creative aspect also demands a flexible personality. It requires social entrepreneurs to accept that their own privilege will limit their understanding of a marginalized group’s needs. Social entrepreneurs must look to “unexpected” places for knowledge to create inclusive solutions. They must place the social venture’s goals above all else, and diminish their reliance on existing social structures. By doing so, they gain insight into the dynamics that continue to divide the privileged and the under-privileged.

A social entrepreneur must be adaptable to changing environments. Understanding how policies are formed, and the underlying causes of systemic poverty, will enable us to create ventures that speak to existing deficiencies. Social entrepreneurs not only have to think about the problem they are solving, but the ecosystem they are working in or trying to build. To be scalable and sustainable, social ventures, and the ideas behind them, must be cognizant of ever-changing needs.

Social ventures will vary depending on the different cultures and political environments from where they sprout. One constant, however, is the role they play in transforming societies. Social entrepreneurship is a commitment to the process of change and the creation of new social value. These ventures provide fertile grounds for the next generations to re-imagine and mold their societies accordingly. Their work will embolden global vision of economic equality and the alleviation of poverty.

Juliana is co-founder of Ushahidi Inc and BRCK Inc., and is a trustee of the iHub. She serves as strategic advisor on the councils of BASF and Microsoft 4Afrika, and is anMIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow and TED Senior Fellow.