When thinking about entrepreneurship and starting our own business, we tend to reduce this idea to solely profit-making business models. But business solutions are also necessary to solve major world issues, such as poverty, access to education or even resource depletion.
Social entrepreneurship is defined by Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship as “the practice of combining innovation, resourcefulness and opportunity to address critical social and environmental challenges.’’ But before starting our business, it is of utmost importance to channel our idea correctly. Thus, here are some tips, extracted from the book The Business Solutions to Poverty by Paul Polak and Mal Warwick that can help you as social entrepreneur to begin your venture:
1. Identify a Problem (valid for any kind of entrepreneurship)
You must clearly identify the problem you see, to effectively brainstorm solutions. If you wish to be a social entrepreneur this problem should be a social problem that you’re looking to solve.
2. Interview your Client Base
It is imperative to fully understand your customers to implement a truly effective social enterprise. This requires many hours of research and interaction with your supposed client base. You have to understand exactly their needs are, and why they’re not satisfied by the current options available to them. Having a clear view of who your customers are and more importantly knowing what exactly they need to solve this problem, are necessary steps in developing your social enterprise. You must understand what they’re willing to pay, and why, as well as the key features that have drawn them into this price bracket.
3. Start Designing
It is only after you have this clear vision of the problem you’re trying to solve that you can begin to develop your product. When designing your product or service you must keep in mind the information you have gathered from your research. Make sure to keep in mind all the different requirements that your customers have outlined.
4. Ruthless Affordability:
It is necessary for you to keep affordability at the top of your priority list when designing your product. If you really want to solve a social problem, you have to make your idea available to those who need it most and are disenfranchised with the alternatives. Remember, there are times where it is acceptable to sacrifice things such as aesthetics and design if doing so would save you money and give you a greater competitive advantage. You must keep the resources available to your customers at the forefront of your mind.
5. Last-Mile Distribution:
One of the biggest difficulties especially when working in developing countries is reaching your intended audience. In many places around the world there is no FedEX or UPS to get your product to its more remote areas. So, you must consider this when considering how to distribute your product or service to your intended audience. You have to figure out how to get your product as close to your intended customers as possible.
Elena Ballesteros Rodado is a Business development intern at BridgeforBillions
For further support and to affordably incubate online your project for 3 months, I strongly recommend visiting bridgeforbillions.org. They provide entrepreneurs with the business tools to create a solid business plans and the mentoring necessary to improve upon their ideas.