Disruption for Social Good

with Renee Kaplan

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Why the world needs social entrepreneurs

Renee Kaplan

Chief Strategist, Change Maker, Impact Investment Expert

Lessons Learned

Notable social progress throughout history always started with an innovation.

Social entrepreneurship is more analogous to regular entrepreneurship than non-profit work.

Social entrepreneurship is about systems disruption on a global scale.


Lesson: Disruption for Social Good with Renee Kaplan

Step #1 Disruption: Why the world needs social entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurship is really different from what, I think, other people think of as nonprofit work. It's the disruptors. It's more, I think, analogous to an entrepreneur in the for-profit space. It's someone who sees an idea and has an innovation. They see a problem that they want to solve, and they go after it in a way that's very disruptive.

So it's systems disruption. It's not just doing great work for people or seeing a problem and addressing it kind of intermittently. It's saying, "I'm going to crack open the system or this problem and I'm going to solve it." It's at a scale that's really at a global level in most cases.

For us, it's a new defining category. It's kind of in this middle between nonprofit, traditional business approaches, and then, for us, social entrepreneurship is the hybrid. It really takes some of the best of business practices and learning approaches but really applies it in a way that's social.

For us, social entrepreneurship is really taking all the best things that entrepreneurs bring that we're very familiar with in the for-profit sector but applying it in a very social way, really partnering with the beneficiary, the people on the ground that hopefully this innovation impacts, and then looking at how to build alliances and work with government. It's a social philosophy and a social approach from the outset, otherwise it won't work.

If we look at history and if we look at the big social progress that has happened, whether it's tackling racism, whether it's civil rights, whether it's recycling and some of the things that are going on with our planet, it has to start with an innovation and it has to be a little disruptive at the beginning. If we're just kind of step-by-step making small changes, it doesn't work. There has to be something that disrupts our thinking and our behaviors and the way our systems work in order for us to really understand and see the opportunity and be able to get to the progress that we really can see.

For me, social entrepreneurship matters because it's taking a problem and offering a solution at a global scale. It's the only thing that's going to solve, in my view, some of these complex social problems that we have today.

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