The Social Entrepreneur

By Capt. Tapas Majumdar (Retd.)

A key skill for every founder is to be able to simply describe their value proposition, and for a social enterprise, this means describing how you make a positive impact on the world through business. First, create value, then translate it into something businesses are eager to pay for. While social entrepreneurs offer value, it’s not always fully recognized. Social entrepreneurship is essentially entrepreneurship with a twist: running profitable businesses with a purpose.

1. Being married to the idea
Social entrepreneurs are passionately driven to solve the problems that are impacting society. This is required, but at an optimal level. As the famous quote says, “Anything beyond what we need is poison.” Passion is important, however; excessive passion can restrict your thinking, limit your growth, and diminish your ability to stay relevant to the problem you are solving.

2. Describe the impact of your value position
“Value is what is perceived by the receiver, not the giver.” Describe the impact of your value position, but in a manner that the receiver (your client) understands it in his universe. Talk in the language he understands; he may not understand your offering’s value the way you perceive it. Drive the impact of your value proposition on his business, which makes him willing to pay for it.

3. Social and economic context
The external environment significantly influences social enterprises. Economic conditions, regulatory hurdles, and community dynamics play a crucial role. Social entrepreneurs driven by passion and the delivery of value often lose sight of the fact that they are also ‘entrepreneurs’. This means that they must equally focus on keeping the business economically viable and profitable. While some focus on the economics, making larger profits, and increasing valuation, others are in a hurry to make the business a ‘unicorn’. The extremes of both are detrimental to business. “Work your heart out, but take your brains with you.”

4. Problem focus versus solution focus
Initial success reinforces their belief that the service they provide as a solution, as well as the means by which they deliver it, are effective, and that is the way forward. Future expansion plans are drawn based on this understanding. The focus moves from the problem to the solution; this is dangerous. When you exist to find a relevant solution, you come up with a plethora of products and services. If your toolbox only has a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.

5. Entrepreneurship is a mutating virus
Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle we choose for ourselves. If you enjoy the ‘near end’ and ‘top of the world’ situations, then stay. If you are fixing a leaking tap, then fix it. The tools used to fix it are not the end, but merely tools.

Social entrepreneurs play an important part in offering solutions to real-time challenges faced by society. Through their social enterprise, they deliver change that society greatly benefits; they must continue to remain ‘agents of change’.

Author Brief:
Capt. Tapas Majumdar (Retd.) is the Founder Director of The Sustainability Practitioners and an Independent Director with Mcon Rasayan India Limited (a listed entity). His expertise is in “building and connecting strong sustainability practices to strong financial and environmental outcomes for clients.” He advises companies to build their sustainability practices and connect them to financial and environmental outcomes. He is a member of the Board of Studies at NMIMS, 6 Sigma-qualified, a published author, and a life member of the Institute of Directors at the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs and Mentor My Board. He can be reached at


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