SEA Journal

Social Entrepreneurship – The New Community Engagement

fd57315048b2a0e2ee02ed04b0927842 XLSocial entrepreneurship should be the new engagement for individuals and the public and private sectors, with implications for higher education training – especially in Africa – according to Goos Minderman, public governance professor at Vrije Universiteit in The Netherlands.

Providing an international perspective at an innovation and research day held by the Graduate School of Business Leadership at the University of South Africa (UNISA) this month, Minderman said the importance of business involvement in social networks and semi-public activities could be viewed from two perspectives.

The first was the European view, where the government's role was rapidly changing, and more non-profit and profit-driven partners could become involved in maintaining good education, healthcare and welfare levels.The second was the African view, where the focus revolved around the importance of business in combating corruption.

“Corruption has been evolving in the last decades and therefore no social network or social programme can be guaranteed. The battle against corruption is everyone's responsibility in both the private and the public sectors,” Minderman said. Corruption currently cost South Africa more than R150 billion (US$16 billion) annually and was bleeding around 30% from public sector budgets, substantially hindering delivery on social problems.

“These losses, coupled with inefficiencies, are strongly limiting South Africa's problem-solving potential. United Nations statistics show corruption adds 25% to the costs of public procurement,” he said.

More critically, only 30% of government corruption was detected, and 80% of fraud was committed by employees. More than 70% of South African companies were victims of corruption against the 37% global average, according to auditing firm PWC.Social entrepreneurship, defined as the means to identify a social problem and use entrepreneurial principles to achieve a desired social change, should be the new engagement for individuals and public and private organisations.

“The public sector has been changing worldwide, being under pressure to become smaller and thus not being the only arena from which solutions will come. The private sector and individuals will be crucial in influencing policies and in creating public value for citizens," he said.

Internationally, no country had a healthcare system that was wholly market organised and working, nor a completely public one that was working. This example demonstrated the dilemma entrepreneurship played in creating public values."Business students can add to the new balance and understanding emerging in higher education training by opening their market thinking to others and finding ways to combine with themselves and other orientations," Minderman concluded.