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3 Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs to Follow in 2020

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Social entrepreneurship differs from traditional entrepreneurship in a big way: social entrepreneurship is a business model that is geared towards environmental, social, and cultural spheres. The public externalities of social entrepreneurship or the ‘social good’ are what distinguishes it from traditional business entrepreneurship which is all about profit.

By generating these positive ‘social’ returns, social entrepreneurs become driving forces within their communities. The old-school model of CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives has largely given way to a more hands-on approach to grassroots-level advocacy where a real and lasting impact can be felt.

Social entrepreneurship is the perfect fusion of business and compassion. It is deeply rooted in a noble cause: an equitable and better world for everyone. The world is awash with social entrepreneurs and their foundations, each of which is geared towards helping people in need. Social entrepreneurship is not charity; it is a business model that seeks a just society and actively makes changes to achieve these objectives.

Various mentorship programs, health and wellness initiatives, educational undertakings, and women empowerment campaigns now pepper the scene. Each of the 3 social entrepreneurs in our feature is passionate about helping their communities. They are driven by a strong value system with a focus on empowerment. There are three types of social entrepreneurship models, including nonprofits, for-profits, and hybrid systems.

1. Isabel Dos Santos

entrepreneurs to follow
Source: Isabel Dos Santos

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Spearheading our list of entrepreneurs is Isabel Dos Santos, an inspirational force par excellence. Isabel is an Angolan female who ascended to the highest rungs of corporate enterprise. Educated at King’s College in London, she graduated with an electrical engineering degree. Her business

acumen is trumped only by the desire to rebalance the scales in her home country of Angola She is someone who cares about Angola and the people of Angola.

Dos Santos is a tireless women’s advocate. As the head of leading multiple corporations such as Zap, Candando, Efacac, and Unitel, she has tremendous clout when it comes to redressing gender-based inequalities in the workplace. A staunch proponent of equal pay for men and women, Dos Santos routinely promotes capable women at companies and creates a workplace culture conducive to egalitarian practices.

She contributes to multiple philanthropic initiatives such as the eradication of malaria from Angola, the provision of pediatric hospital services to indigent communities of Angola, various ‘Fun Days’ for underprivileged children, scholarship opportunities for up-and-coming female stars at Unitel, and agricultural development campaigns in rural areas such as the Strawberry Plantation initiative which provided work for 120 women.

2. Henry Wash

entrepreneurs to follow
Source: Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Henry Wash was abandoned by his mother when he was just 3 months old and he grew up in foster care. He was ridiculed by his teachers as a youngster, but some people recognized the potential in him. He was encouraged by a man named Thurman Mitchell to seek gainful employment. Ultimately, fate smiled upon him when he came across Henry Bloch, the philanthropist who created H&R Block. Mr. Bloch took him under his wing and saw to it that he got educated.

In 2001, Wash received a scholarship to Metropolitan Community College. After some positive reinforcement from Mr. Bloch, Wash ultimately earned his Master’s Degree from the Bloch School of Management at UKMC. Then, Henry Wash set about his ambitious social entrepreneurship agenda. He created the High Aspirations foundation which now works with 70 kids and provides them with motivation, inspiration, and opportunity to engage in community service.

High Aspirations is the brainchild of social entrepreneur Henry Wash, and it is a transformational mentorship initiative with strong growth potential for African-American males between 8 – 18 years of age. He is also setting up a free lawn mowing service for people in the neighborhood who cannot perform this activity for themselves.

3. Wala Kasmi

entrepreneurs to follow
Source: Ashoka

Wala Kasmi is focused on empowering young Tunisians in the political arena. She also works to strengthen democracy in her home country, decrease the influence of radical ideology, and to provide employment opportunities to her countrymen. As a force for change in Tunisia, Kasmi and her venture, YouthDecides are already having a powerful impact on the youth.

Various educational initiatives such as WeCode are making it possible for young Tunisians to find work in the tech sector. YouthDecides now boasts 4000 members across its network in four countries. This movement promotes community ambassadors (18 – 35 years of age) and trains them to be leaders in the political field.

Such is the tremendous appeal of Wala Kasmi’s work that her efforts are supported by corporate partners and government alike. Major sponsors include Esprit incubator, Google Inc, and Orange. Her social entrepreneurship initiatives gained momentum after the 2011 Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia.

Young people who were increasingly sidelined by the establishment were also being radicalized en masse. Kasmi’s WeCode project gained the recognition of the French government. With greater technical skills and abilities, young folks throughout Tunisia and neighboring countries are now gaining the requisite skills to change the narrative and promote innovative growth in their countries.

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John Meeks
John is a freelance writer specializing in finance and entrepreneurship. He also consults clients about financial management and small business solutions.

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