Social problems harbor opportunity for new social enterprise

Social problems are opportunities waiting to be tapped by social entrepreneurs…

Cycle of poverty and the theory of cumulative disadvantage were two terms I learned in college which were difficult to wrap my head around. It seemed odd that we had developed terminology for the perpetual inequalities that are baked into the DNA of our society. We teach students about the existence of social problems, but we don’t teach students how to solve these problems. We teach students to perceive those who try to solve social problems as those who are “going against the grain” – this leads to a separation between humans at an early age. Merely because of the thoughts of our parents.

It is ok that the systems in place are flawed, but we must take the initiative to reimagine these systems.

It might help to think about hitting the reset button so we can rebuild America from the ground up, and we should start this process with all of us TRULY equal from the beginning. How can we tell a poor person who was born with no resources, nowhere to go, and no one to help her that she has to “catch up” or else fail?

I see similar problems with admins of higher education when VPs, deans, and directors to not interact with their student population it creates a divide. University admins have little idea as to what students need because they are out of touch due to the ivory tower complex.

I am involved with the education innovation movement to help students with self-directed learning and creating products to facilitate connections between students who would benefit from working with one another because they have similar passions and preferences. However, government assistance and charitable offerings to the less-advantaged populations who fall prey to homelessness, poverty, etc are only able to provide band-aids to the social problems. It is as though you broke your leg, but instead of getting it completely fixed and placed in a cast for 3-6 months you are told to take this ACE bandage and just wrap it around the broken bone that is sticking out of your skin.

Social entrepreneurs solve problems without asking for permission.

Social entrepreneurs move mountains, change laws, and they outlast any person or organization who attempts to get in their way.

The life’s purpose of a social entrepreneur is specifically to solve social problems. We use revenue generating business models to access capital, and we unleash much needed resources onto these populations negatively impacted by specific social problems.

Social entrepreneurs do not give you an ACE bandage to cover the bone shards protruding from your leg. Rather, social entrepreneurs will call for a private helicopter to get you to the best doctor in the area to make sure your leg heals 100%. They go one step further also. The social entrepreneur figures out what exactly caused you to break your leg, and they make sure it does not happen to other people.

Social entrepreneurship is about preventing social problems by changing the system which is causing the social problem to exist.

Profit-centric entrepreneurs traditionally think economically first, and socially second. Profit first, and people second. This is why the opportunities are still available, because until now, all the finance people and investors have only had one option – build companies that make the most amount of profit as possible.

While that thought process deemed successful for the pockets of a select few of Americans, it resulted in the social problems we are now plagued with. If we want to fix the social problems which are the results of the old economy, then we must fix the governing dynamics which we all currently live by.

America is a startup

America is a young country, and it was more of an experiment than anything else. The place we started three to four hundred years ago should be very different from where we are today, and where we end up in the near future. This country is still in startup mode. Startups are only successful if they continue to iterate their features to meet the needs of their customers. This would explain the conflict we have between American youth and the education system.

Social problems can be taught differently in school

I sat through professor after professor talk about society’s problems. I came from a lower class family so it was odd to sit in a college class with the teacher describing inequality and basically telling us life is just not fair. There are the haves, and the have-nots.

Suggestion: teach people about social problems, but also teach them how to solve those problems. This is a necessary step in our social evolution, and since it does not exist in a commercial form yet we have decided to build a product which not only teaches you how to understand the depth and complexity of why the social problem exists, but it also walks you through the process of building your own social enterprise that solves the social problem.

by Daniel D'Alonzo

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