Gen Y- Ambitious to Save the World as Social Entrepreneurs

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IEDP: The involvement of ‘millennials’ in social entrepreneurship highlights how the corporate world can benefit from engaging a generation ambitious to change the world. Experts Giles Hutchins and Martina Mangelsdorf have been looking into this new trend towards social entrepreneurship and identified five values in Gen Y which act as catalysts for the desire to better the world.

Students from Dutch art schools De Eindhovense and SintLucas, each chewed on a piece of gum before adding it to this structure, made entirely of chewing gum, May 2012 (Photo: Rex).
While a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit, a social entrepreneur also measures positive returns to society and the wider environment.

A lot has been said and written lately about the rise of social entrepreneurship. Not only does the world suffer from an increasing number of challenges that need solutions, it also seems that more and more people feel drawn to a career as a social entrepreneur.

While a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit, a social entrepreneur also measures positive returns to society and the wider environment. Social entrepreneurship is commonly associated with the voluntary and not-for-profit sectors but it does not necessarily exclude for-profit business objectives. Common initiatives include community interest activities, social engagement and education, micro credits, cooperative farming, business development, supporting arts or vocational training.

Born between 1980 and 1995, many from the millennial generation have embraced social entrepreneurship as a valid and desirable career track – seeing it less as a ‘career’ in the traditional sense and more as a purposeful path in life. Several colleges and universities have established programs that focus on educating social entrepreneurs and FORBES recently published their annual “30 under 30” listing of innovators and entrepreneurs for 2012. Social entrepreneurs were added as one of six new categories this year, ranging across 15 fields from Art & Style to Technology.

Similar to the young disruptors selected by FORBES, countless Gen Y talents are impatient to change the world and social entrepreneurship offers them a great outlet to do so. It simply resonates with some of the typical Gen Y values that characterize this generation: collaboration; accessibility; sustainability; globalization; self-expression.

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Daniel Chadwick
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