In this TEDx talk, Erica Wenger explains how social entrepreneurship provides opportunities for social change in those areas where charity and entrepreneurship meet.
While still a student at USC, she became involved in various social enterprise schemes, convinced that social issues were waiting to be solved through some clever initiatives. Her most valuable lesson, however, proved to be that seemingly simple problems are often multi-layered.
One such idea involved setting up a business collecting recyclables and turning profits into food vouchers for the homeless, thus tackling pollution and hunger in one fell swoop. To the dismay of the project creators however, homeless people were not allowed in most stores to even present their vouchers. The solution—to provide small convenience stores for their clients to present their vouchers.
Stories like this abound, where extra steps had to be added to well-meaning plans to accommodate the complexity of real-world issues. Despite the steep learning curve, Ms Wenger remains optimistic about the possibilities of social enterprise, and the potential for her generation to use it to change the world for the better.