The Economist magazine writes about U.S.A. and Britain governments’ measures on funding social innovation efforts. The magazine also, gives a background of social innovation and social entrepreneurship.
“Social innovation’ is the increasingly common shorthand for this approach to public-private partnerships. It differs from the fashion in the past couple of decades for contracting out the delivery of public services to businesses and non-profit groups in order to cut costs, in that it aims to do more than save a few dollars or pounds’”although that is part of its attraction. The idea is to transform the way public services are provided, by tapping the ingenuity of people in the private sector, especially social entrepreneurs.
A social entrepreneur is, in essence, someone who develops an innovative answer to a social problem (for instance, a business model for helping to tackle poverty). A decade ago the term was scarcely heard; today everyone from London to Lagos wants to be one. Social-entrepreneurship conferences are invariably the best attended events for students at leading business schools.
The idea behind social entrepreneurship is that fresh, businesslike ideas will bring about a productivity miracle in the “social sector’ (public services plus charity) similar to the one that began in business in the 1990s. Already, a growing number of social entrepreneurs have made a mark. The best known is probably Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi founder of Grameen, a microfinance bank, and winner of a Nobel peace prize. Another prominent example is Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America, which puts thousands of recent graduates from leading universities to work as teachers in some of the country’ s worst schools.