Here is an interesting article that suggests that social enterprise is a perfect tool for the idealistic Millennial. Social Delta couldn’t agree more (although we also believe that it is a robust tool for anyone from any generation seeking sustainable social change…)
However, as Social Delta’s president noted as a comment in the article, the wonderful and infectious idealism of Millennials must be tempered by knowledge of what has gone before. There are very few truly new ideas. We have new tools like computers and the internet, we have access to massive amounts of information, but humans have been innovating for our entire history.
It can be observed that perhaps each generation believes that they possess something that the previous generation lacked. This is the folly of humankind. Even if this were true, knowing what has gone before us in social housing, sustainable agriculture, support of seniors, empowering a disenfranchised group, or even recycling will help to convert idealism into practical, sustainable change in our communities.
One change that is worth noting: this new access to information actually makes it easier to learn about the history of a movement, and idea or a business. Moreover, we don’t only have access to the past, we also have access to other communities’ experience all over the world. We in Canada can learn a lot from citizens in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America or elsewhere. Miraculously, we can find out about these concurrent efforts easily; however, we must look before we leap.
It would be dangerous to think that even the very concept of social enterprise is new. The term may be new, but social enterprise–commercial transactions designed to benefit the community–is one of the oldest forms of social change. It is possible to think that many businesses 100 years ago were social enterprises: they generated employment, provided needed goods and services, and operated for the benefit of the community. (think of the general store…it wasn’t created for profit, but it certainly created community value).
We must all remember that new terminology shouldn’t disguise old ideas and that new ideas are best informed by past action by innovators and idealists all over the globe.