In recent years, the concept of social entrepreneurship has garnered significant attention and has been recognized as an effective approach to addressing social and environmental issues. This concept has emerged as a competing approach to business versus traditional entrepreneurship that has been long adopted as the main approach to growing business and meeting market needs. The question of which is better has been circling recently in most market researches.

What is social entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurship is a process through which individuals, organizations, and businesses develop, fund, and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues. It involves utilizing entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage sustainable ventures that drive social change and impact communities. Social entrepreneurship encompasses a wide range of activities and initiatives aimed at creating positive and sustainable social impact. This can include a variety of areas such as poverty alleviation, education, healthcare, environmental sustainability, and women’s empowerment, among others. The goal of social entrepreneurship is not only to generate financial returns but also to address pressing social and environmental challenges and create lasting and meaningful change in society. One of the fundamental characteristics of social entrepreneurship is its focus on innovation. Social entrepreneurs are driven by the desire to find new and creative approaches to solving social problems. They are often willing to challenge traditional methods and think outside the box to develop innovative solutions to complex social issues. Moreover, social entrepreneurship is characterized by a strong sense of social responsibility, as social entrepreneurs are committed to addressing the needs of society and contributing to the greater good. Another key aspect of social entrepreneurship is its emphasis on sustainability. Social entrepreneurs seek to create ventures that are financially sustainable and have a long-term positive impact on society. This may involve developing business models that generate revenue while also serving the needs of the community. Nonetheless, there is a general misinterpretation among some circles that social entrepreneurs by virtue do not seek profit and their ventures are non-for-profit. This shows a lack of understanding of the need to sustain and grow a social enterprise the same as a traditional one.

What is traditional entrepreneurship?

Traditional entrepreneurship refers to the act of starting, managing, and operating a business with the goal of generating profit through the use of traditional business models, practices, and techniques. This form of entrepreneurship has been the backbone of most economies, and it continues to play a crucial role in driving economic growth and innovation. Nevertheless, the notion of traditionality does not allude to any notion of traditional enterprises being obsolete, rather, they absorb novel concepts and business models such as digital and technological entrepreneurs. The element of traditionality only refers to the modality of the business in regards to its vision, outputs, and degree of impact. Traditional entrepreneurs typically start small, often as sole proprietors, and gradually grow their businesses through hard work, determination, and strategic decision-making. Another defining aspect of traditional entrepreneurship is the emphasis on self-reliance and independence. Traditional entrepreneurs often take on the financial risk of starting and running their businesses, utilizing their own funds, loans, or investments from family and friends.

Traditional entrepreneurship is deeply rooted in local communities and often involves providing goods and services that are tailored to the needs and preferences of a specific market. This fosters a sense of community and relationship-building between business owners and their customers.

Despite the rise of technology and digital platforms, traditional entrepreneurship continues to thrive in various industries, including agriculture, retail, construction, and manufacturing. While it may face challenges in a rapidly changing business environment, traditional entrepreneurship remains an essential and vital component of the most economies

Traditional entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship are two distinct approaches to creating and managing businesses, each with its own unique set of characteristics and objectives. While traditional entrepreneurship focuses on profit-maximization and revenue generation, social entrepreneurship aims to address and solve social, environmental, and economic problems through innovative business practices. Here is a breakdown of the key differences:

1. Purpose and goals:

One of the most fundamental differences between traditional entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship lies in their purpose and goals. Traditional entrepreneurs typically aim to generate profit and financial success, often through the creation and operation of business ventures. On the other hand, social entrepreneurs are driven by a desire to address social and environmental issues. Their primary goal is to create meaningful and sustainable impact on society, rather than solely focusing on financial gain.

2. Impact and innovation:

Traditional entrepreneurship often focuses on creating innovative products or services that appeal to the market and generate revenue. While social entrepreneurship also values innovation, the focus lies on creating solutions to social and environmental problems. Social entrepreneurs seek to make a positive impact on communities and the environment through their innovative ideas and initiatives, which often go beyond the typical market-driven innovations seen in traditional entrepreneurship.

3. Collaboration:

Traditional entrepreneurs often prioritize the interests of shareholders and customers, aiming to maximize profits and market share. In contrast, social entrepreneurs actively engage with a wider range of stakeholders, including local communities, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and other social enterprises. Collaboration and partnerships with these stakeholders are essential for social entrepreneurs to achieve their social and environmental goals.

4. Measurement of success:

Traditional entrepreneurship typically measures success in terms of financial performance, market share, and profitability. Social entrepreneurship, however, uses a broader set of metrics to evaluate success, including social impact, sustainability, and the wellbeing of communities and the environment. Social entrepreneurs are committed to creating positive change, and as such, they measure success based on the positive outcomes achieved in the areas they seek to impact. Naturally, traditional entrepreneurship is easier to measure while social entrepreneurship is more challenging and time demanding because it relies heavily on qualitative methods of measurement.

5. Approach to risk and failure:

Entrepreneurship inherently involves risk-taking, and both traditional and social entrepreneurs face challenges and the potential for failure. However, their approach to risk and failure differs significantly. Traditional entrepreneurs often take calculated risks to maximize financial returns, with a focus on mitigating potential losses. In contrast, social entrepreneurs are often willing to take greater risks to address complex social and environmental problems, and they recognize that failure is a natural part of the process. Thus, they are more focused on learning from failure and adapting their approach to achieve their social goals.

6. Customer base:

Traditional entrepreneurs usually target broad customer bases especially in the long run and they increase their customers as they add more layers to their products and services while social entrepreneurs usually target very small and specific customer bases. Their customer bases are usually marginalized and lack the services provided by social entrepreneurship.

When considering which approach may be better, it is important to acknowledge that both traditional entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship play valuable roles in the economy and society. Traditional entrepreneurship is essential for economic growth, job creation, and technological innovation, while social entrepreneurship is crucial for driving social change. The choice between traditional entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship ultimately depends on the goals, values, and priorities of the entrepreneur. By understanding the key differences between the two, entrepreneurs can better align their efforts with their desired outcomes and contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable world.