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How to make a social entrepreneur?

How to make a social entrepreneur? 

-Opening keynote speech in the 3rd Annual Conference of Social Entrepreneurs by Ms. WANG Ping, Founder and Chairperson of China Social Entrepreneur Foundation



Social entrepreneurs are people who start pioneering work and bring social benign transformations in order to solve social problems, meet social demands, and create social values. They are the best models of full humanity combined self-interest with altruism in the best way.


It is a great pleasure for me to join all of you here at the opening ceremony of the 3rd Annual Conference of Social Entrepreneurs in the Bird's Nest and witness the appearing of new social entrepreneur stars (SEStars). I have a lot of thoughts about how to make a social entrepreneur. I cannot wait to share them with you after meeting so many thoughtful and motivated persons.


Human Nature & Social Entrepreneurs

Let me start from the human nature. At the mention of Philanthropy, a lot of people will think of dedication. It always occurs to us that human nature is selfish, while people working in the philanthropy area are doing things against the original human nature, as well as entrepreneurs are all a bunch of selfish persons driven by profits. So, what on earth is the human nature?

Before answering the question, let me share some cases with you all. As you may know, there was a tragedy recently in the world of philanthropy. Olive Cooke, a 92 - year - old British philanthropist, who did the charity work for 76 years, committed suicide by jumping bridge to express her deep disappointment and chilling about the wholly inappropriate behavior of hounding pensioners for donations. Her case also reminds us another philanthropist who donated over 3 million to support 178 students. But there was no one to visit him when he was seriously ill in hospital. Some of these students even denied the fact that they were funded.

How should we see the human nature, when there is a sharp contrast between generosity, enthusiasm and greed, apathy in humanity? Is the human nature selfish or altruism? This seems an eternal discussion. However, I consider it as a pseudo-proposition, whose failure is that it puts the two sides of the human nature at opposite sides.

China Social Entrepreneur Foundation (aka “Youchange Foundation”) advocate people-oriented thought since it established. The thought is the foundation of the comprehensive understanding of human nature, and should our first lesson of social entrepreneurs to recognize that human nature is complicated, with both good and evil sides. 

Let's analyze our own human nature: we are both social persons, who are altruism and in pursuit of fairness, and economic persons, who are self-interest and in pursuit of efficiency. We must not divide the human nature into two opposite aspects.

In the traditional concept of charity, the altruistic moral side of people working in the charity area is always exaggerated. In the traditional business concept, people also tend to emphasize only the selfish side, considering it as the driving force of development, and even deliberately exaggerated people’s greed, and manufactured more than actual demand. These two extremes need be combined in the middle way in the concept of new philanthropy and social innovation.

We believe that in fact, people working in the charity are not saints. The greed of people is actually fed out. Good deeds with no wisdom often result in evil consequence. Thus we say new philanthropy should help people achieve the good instead of the bad. We should have loving hearts to help people free from fear. People are social animal because there are fears in their hearts. They need society and cooperation and be together with others. Based on this, we should help others with good hearts. We also need wisdom to help people avoid greed, since people are all potentially greedy.

The feature of self-interest in human nature is absorption from the outside in, which is the internalization of growth. The feature of altruism is giving from inside out, which is also the internalization of growth and necessary for growth. These two things are not opposite and mutual exclusive. Like plant photosynthesis, biological and human-being metabolism, they are all self interest and altruism on the biological chain, and demands for biological interdependent, win-win, common prosperous, and sustainable development.

Talking about new philanthropy, and social entrepreneurship, one of the most important spirits is cross border. Do not limit yourself into only the area of philanthropy or business. In fact, everyone can be a social entrepreneur.

In Youchange’s horizon, the boundary between philanthropy and business has been broken, which is our advocated social innovative enterprise. On the basis of the understanding about human nature and social ecology, social innovative enterprise should not be at the expense of profits and fairness.

Social entrepreneur can be also elites in the business area, but different from the common businessman in the ways as follows: they are not blindly in pursuit of profit in their entrepreneurship, but targeting at some urgent social problems, in which they see business opportunities; they instinctively refuse the mercenary drive, while fully comply with the business game rules; they strive for a long-term development though meeting social demands and gain profits. These businesses are social innovative enterprises in our eyes, and these businessmen are social entrepreneurs, because social values are their final goals, while the commercial values are just spontaneous results in the processes.  Let me summarize it with 3A principles.


What kind of people are these social entrepreneurs?

I think social entrepreneurs are a group of unique people with 3A features. The 3A what I say there are as follows:

Aim- Motivation, emphasizing on social goal orientation, in order to focus on more equitable, more effective and more sustainable solutions to social problems

Approach- Creativity, emphasizing on innovations on model, mechanism, tools and methods in order to realize optimal allocation of resources and effective use.

Action- Mobility, emphasizing on the implementation of innovative solutions by organization and teams, to realize social goals.

The corresponding word for “Aim” among social entrepreneurs is “social”, which means they have an irresistible sympathy for the suffering of mankind, and they are keen to find out social issues, and diligently strive after solutions for these problems. Therefore, they must be eager to pursue the truth, go beyond themselves, eager to learn and to grow, and can transcend the drive of interest, eager to become noble, willing to give for the good society. This is a group of noble people, whose noble is from the glory of humanity. They can gain their own interests through altruism.

The corresponding word for “Approach” among social entrepreneurs is “create or say innovate”. New philanthropy is far more than doing good things. In the system of 3A, the most important factor is how to transfer the sympathy for mankind suffering into innovative and systematic solutions. Innovation is not out of nothing, but need to identify and respond to current demands according to history and past experience. Meanwhile, innovation needs to combine own capacities and resources with social demands, to create competitive products and services in the market in order to satisfy needs of all kinds of stakeholders, instead of simply plagiarizing and coping. Also, innovation must be cross-boundary, including the combination of social and cultural, business model, and science and technology.

The corresponding word for “Action” among social entrepreneurs is “act”, which means social entrepreneurs must have effective mobility, and bring changes to the society. In the cooperation of resource mobilization, they can gain social values and commercial values in the process of creating and exchanging values. These need to be done teams.

Based on the above, a set of 3A evaluation tools was developed by Youchange, which can make a series of quantitative and qualitative analysis about social value creation. We are still in the process of R&D, and welcome your participation. 


How to make a social entrepreneur?

Based on the above, a set of 3A evaluation tools was developed by Youchange, which can make a series of quantitative and qualitative analysis about social value creation. We are still in the process of R&D, and welcome your participation.

Social entrepreneurship is the best combination of idealism and realism, and then I’ll analyze the process of how social entrepreneurs tempered. Social innovation can be seen as a process of learning, sharing, creating and exchanging when we see a person as a whole. It can be summarized as follows:

Learning. Internalizing make their own social ideals through learning. They keep absorbing energy and generate their visions and form their positioning of lives.

Sharing. They must learn to share and express their knowledge. Through various forms, they can influence and inspire others, change the cognition of the society, and lead resource integration with their philosophy.

In the reality, a lot of people just stop here, and then become a theorist only.

Creating. They can create sustainable models with social and commercial values, including operation model and management model and etc.. They can also meet their own demands though connecting the stakeholders with these models, and finish value chains of social participation.
A lot of unsuccessful social entrepreneurs stop here, due to failures to transfer social values into market values. 

Exchanging. With market competitive products and services as carriers, to realize value exchange and win-win of social and commercial values.

One can be viewed as a social entrepreneur only if he/she gets through all these four steps.

Learning, sharing, creating and exchanging can cover all-round demands based on human natures, which are also important characteristics of social entrepreneurs. In the equal, open, participating and sharing era of internet, these four steps can be more rapid (the cycle to complete the whole process will be shorter, sometimes even spontaneous and real-time interactive) and socialized (socialized learning, socialized sharing, socialized creating and social exchanging).

Therefore, I think opportunities for social entrepreneur are coming in the internet age. In this age, compared with commercial enterprises, social entrepreneurs’ chances of success are greater!

First, the internet technology brings collative sharing, which make the marginal cost of products and service tend to zero and help the poor can benefit from them.

Second, added values from social capital bring more chances to social entrepreneurs, including the trust, reputation and partnership of the social value, inspiration and pressure of social network, and cross border resource mobilization.


Social entrepreneurship is the brilliant display of human nature,

and the most beautiful blossoms of lives

From the external view, social entrepreneurs are designed to solve social problems, to meet needs of society, to create social value and bring benign social transformation through entrepreneurship. From the internal view, social entrepreneurs are the best combination of self interest and altruism, and a full human being. It is necessary to unify aim, approach and action no matter doing philanthropy or social entrepreneurship, in order to realize win-win commercial and social values. This is what Youchange advocated: “We should have loving hearts to help people free from fear. People are social animal because there are fears in their hearts. We need wisdom to help people avoid greed.” Otherwise, like the power losing control or capital losing abstinence, philanthropy losing wisdom will lead people to the evil.

We call on more people to join the social entrepreneurship, using social innovation to realize win-win situation of economic values and commercial values. We look forward to more social entrepreneurs in the Internet age!

I wish every SEStar have a brilliant career.


Thank you all.

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