The Importance Of Social Entrepreneurship In South Africa

Social entrepreneurship is the combination of good leadership and innovation to bring about social transformation and poverty alleviation, usually through the creation of jobs.

Where business has shareholders to whom it must report and therefore focuses on the “bottom line” – profits – social entrepreneurs seek gaps in the market in which they can generate an income, usually for the benefit of entire communities.

Social entrepreneurs are highly driven individuals or small teams who create solutions for change, using business principles to build sustainable and high-impact initiatives. As the world leaps from economic crisis to economic crisis, entrepreneurs and small businesses look set to create sustainable solutions by creating micro-entrepreneurs, such as fruit and vegetable sellers, spaza shops and others who won’t rely on funding to get started.

Ali Gregg, founder and CEO of The CEO SleepOut in South Africa, says: “The impact of transforming communities through social entrepreneurship can be the difference between a meal and sleeping on an empty stomach. It’s not enough that we assist someone with a meal or a donation. To be sustainable, life-changing initiatives must be created that enable people to be taught and then run with them.”

This is the core premise of The CEO SleepOut, touted as “the most successful Social Entrepreneurship undertaking in South Africa”. By giving all the funds raised to Girls & Boys Town (GBT), the initiatives ensures that children who would otherwise be homeless, uneducated, probably not healthy and without any support are given a place to stay, therapy and an education.

“By engaging business as a force for positive change, The CEO SleepOut not only raised funds, but also raised awareness of and empathy for homelessness and the challenges faced by vulnerable children daily,” says Gregg. “Social entrepreneurship is about creating opportunities and purpose for the people it seeks to help.”

Based on four pillars of shelter, nutrition, education and healthcare determined by The CEO SleepOut Trust, GBT meets the criteria that ensure the recipients are given every opportunity to become self-reliant members of their communities. Based not only on sheer need, but on huge opportunities for South African individuals as well as the Public & Private Sectors, social entrepreneurship has become the new world order. “The time has come to revise, revisit and reinvent the way we do things in order to leave an enduring legacy of true social innovation,” says Gregg, adding that traditional CSI as a box-ticking exercise is not only unsustainable, it makes no business sense.

“Businesses are in a position to eradicate the ‘charity mentality’ that has dominated their CSI projects and get past business as usual to business as it should be. Social entrepreneurship is about a legacy of creating opportunities, rather than a donation.”

Gregg says as more companies and individuals begin to put “people before profits”, more ways of creating opportunities will emerge. “Social entrepreneurship is not about charity,” she asserts. “It is about changing mindsets among the people who believe there are no opportunities for them, and the people who can assist to create those opportunities. Big business in South Africa has the means to support social entrepreneurs and uplift not only individuals, but communities and the economy as a whole.”

– By The Philanthropic Collection –


The Philanthropic Collection™ is a boutique social enterprise,
where we tailor haute-couture brands for philanthropy.


Our appliqué is made up of global leaders, influencers and forecasters,
all creating conscious capital for humanity.