Leadership + Entrepreneurship + Social Impact (2)

Many of you consider itself a social entrepreneur. For some of you, this is the first time you hear the word. And many others, believe it’s a sect of crazy people or millennials hugging trees. All this is just an indication that we should talk about it. (This is the second part of my post of September)


In my previous post, we discussed about the definition of social entrepreneurship. Now that we have additional insights related to this concept, I want to ask you: Why do you believe social entrepreneurship is important?

Most of the reasons you are thinking are right, but there is one reason I want to highlight. Social entrepreneurship helps us to develop innovative solutions to support sustainable growth. When I think in sustainability, many things come to my mind. However, I want to highlight the following ones: Environment, Opportunities and Viable. So, when you think in something that is sustainable, it means that it takes care of everything that touches and generates new options that are viable.

To complete this framework, there is another word needed, which is: Together! Why is this word important? It’s because it represents community! And communities represents and commands human relationships, being the only way we can really solve these big and complex social problems that affects the humanity. It’s no longer one institution or person solving it, it’s necessary strong communities to overcome today’s main issues.

Do you know who knows this better than anyone else? It’s not me, it’s not the pope. It’s once again: Mark Zuckerberg. Around 4 months ago, Facebook launched its new mission statement, which changed from creating a more open and connected world to “To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” This mission of FB reflects mobilization of people around common objectives. And this is without a doubt, part of social entrepreneurship.

But, let’s do a small stop in this conversation, and let’s include Latin America a little bit further in this discussion. Where is LatAm here? How social entrepreneurship is different for LatAm and developing countries compared to developed ones like US? It’s not that developed countries doesn’t have necessities and social issues like the rest.

Like any other case, what happen in LatAm is that it needs to do much MORE, with Much Less. There is a lot to do in LatAm, but not only for Social Entrepreneurs, but for people working in Infrastructure, Agriculture, Tech, etc. However, in the case we are discussing, for the first time, we have more input to work with, as the Much Less mentioned, represents more pain, ideas and necessities that create social entrepreneurs. And this input should generate innovative solutions to generate social-impact in a global scale. Despite that the pain is local, local is not longer an option for sustainability, scaling models and positive financial results.

Talking about creating successful models, please, let me share with you what I believe are the key success factors for social entrepreneurship.

Some months ago, reading the Stanford Social Innovation Review, I found myself with a very good article related to grantmaking that will help me to develop this idea. I know is not related to social entrepreneurship, but it will help me in the process of highlighting this three success factors.

I found in that article a pyramid that according to the authors is how grantmaking should change in order to have long-term sustainable non-profit organizations. Mainly, what they say is that grantmaking should also have a big focus in creating foundational capability for the organizations, and not only developing more programs to deliver higher numbers. In simple words, organizations need to get their team stronger and give them what they need to generate the revenue necessary to be sustainable and scale their impact.

manolo paez

When I saw this, it immediately reminded me The Global Good Fund and it helped me to outline the three key success factors for social entrepreneurship in my opinion:

  1. Leadership
  2. Financial Sustainability
  3. Mission Driven

Invest in the leader (and team), so this leader can grow his or her organization, so this organization can scale the impact they are doing in the communities they operate.

Imagen 1

*From the lecture I gave at The George Washington University / LaRed Summit last July: LEADERSHIP + ENTREPRENEURSHIP + SOCIAL IMPACT.

In my opinion, these are the key success factors, not only because it creates sustainable social entrepreneurship, but because it prepare the social entrepreneur and organizations for what is to come to the sector.

So, Where the sector is evolving? It’s evolving to Impact investing. Only in 2016, more than USD 114 billion (up from USD 77bn in 2015) flew into impact investment, fueled by a growing appreciation for the ways business and market-based mechanisms can drive positive change in the world, according to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN).

Social entrepreneurs need to be prepared to participate of this growing financial vehicle, while they understand that money is not the only thing they need to succeed. And to be prepared they need a strong leadership that creates more and new revenue sources that support the scaling process of their impact.

In addition, the sector is evolving to a place where everybody will need to adapt to this new reality and the new customers, for which all the companies will need strong leadership to transform their organizations into social-impact organizations. You need to be prepared.

Imagen 1*Source: Educate For Impact. Evolved (Dec 2014)

Somehow, we are all social entrepreneurs! You just need to choose the good you want to do and define the numbers you want to achieve.

 “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” John Wesley


Manolo Paez

October 23, 2017, Washington, D.C




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