Women and Social Entrepreneurship -- A Growing Trend
Women business owners have long been the fastest growing sector
of entrepreneurs, and it is very common for this group to lead
the charge of social entrepreneurism. Social entrepreneurs use
their business acumen to both create a profitable business and
contribute to the greater good. Wanting to use your talents to
create social change no longer requires a low-paying position
within the nonprofit sector. In fact, many women are finding that
the power and privilege that comes with successful
entrepreneurship make it easier to make a difference, both
financially and by promoting new ideas.
The majority of nonprofits rely on outside donors to keep the
good works going. Running a for-profit business provides a
broader opportunity for increasing sales and profitability,
primarily because of the flexibility of private ownership over
the purpose restrictions of a nonprofit. And, using the business
practices and profits of a for-profit business to exact change
allows the owner to alter priorities as needed. A nonprofit is
locked into the stated purpose included in the organizing papers.
There is nothing wrong with improving one's own financial
status. The attitude that one must suffer in order to do good is
yesterday's attitude. The more you have, the more you can do,
and more and more Americans are accepting this reality. Again,
women are leading the charge in showing this to be true. Those in
the highest net worth categories (mostly entrepreneurs and
business executives) are very active, and very generous,
philanthropists overall. On average, over half of these women
contribute over $25,000 per year to charity, while 19% contribute
1 Million dollars or more each year.
There are over 10 Million businesses that are partially
women-owned in the US, and about 7.7 Million businesses that are
majority-owned by women. Of the majority owned, nearly half are
home-based and employ 14 Million part-time or full-time
employees. Around 70% of women-owned businesses are in the
service sector, though the retail sector is slowly growing.
Another nearly 8% are in the real estate sector, including
property management and leasing.
Whatever type of business, there are indications that women are
doing a better job overall of keeping an eye on the details and
managing change -- a proportionately fewer number of women-owned
ventures are failing during this recession than men-owned. It may
be in part because these businesses tend to be smaller on
average, thus are better able to slide through the recession, but
whatever the reason, women in business are doing well. With an
estimated 1.1 trillion in sales each year, there is plenty of
opportunity to improve your own station while working on the
social issues most important to you.
Combining a for-profit business with social activism provides the
best of both worlds. Women who are thinking about launching a
nonprofit should consider the alternative. The fundamentals of
running either type of business (profit or nonprofit) are
essentially the same -- planning, marketing and financial
management. But the payoff of for-profit success can be extreme.
Not only will your increased personal income allow you the
freedom to do more, but the power of entrepreneurial success will
allow you to provide encouragement and set an example for
balancing work and the greater good.
K. MacKillop, a serial entrepreneur with a J.D. from Duke
University, is founder of LaunchX and authors a blog focused
on starting a business (www.blog.launchx.com/).