Johannesburg - The US Chamber of Commerce defines social entrepreneurship as the process by which individuals, start-ups, and entrepreneurs develop and fund solutions that directly address social issues. A social entrepreneur, therefore, is a person who explores business opportunities that have a positive impact on their community, society, or the world.
With that definition in mind, it would seem then that South Africa is a fertile ground for budding social entrepreneurs to thrive.
Undoubtedly, the country faces a number of challenges, like our flailing economy, high unemployment rate, and the lack of service delivery. All these issues are going to require new and innovative solutions.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) is in the grip of one of the worst droughts ever to hit the region, causing water shortages as supply is unable to meet demand.
This is obviously a serious challenge, but it should also be seen as an opportunity for a creative social entrepreneur who can think of unique ways to help alleviate the effects of the problem.
This challenge impacts every person in the municipality, and so innovative solutions have the possibility of affecting the quality of life of over 1.2 million people.
Now, if we look at an example of a home-grown solution that would be applied to better the lives of the people of the NMBM, it could be “Drybath”, created by award-winning entrepreneur Ludwick Marishane from Limpopo.
Speaking to the World Wildlife Fund, Ludwick describes Drybath as “a bath-substituting gel, designed to replace the need for soap, water, and skin lotion. DryBath provides its users with a fun and convenient alternative to traditional bathing and showering, a precious tool for helping people to lower the excessive water use that is leading to a looming global water crisis.”
Ludwick’s product goes beyond saving water. The uses can help prevent diseases in water-scarce regions. Diseases such as Trachoma, which is caused, can be prevented simply by face washing and hand-washing. Trachoma is the world's leading cause of preventable blindness of infectious origin, according to the CDC.
Ludwick was 18 years old when he conceptualised his idea, and it stemmed primarily from his dislike for taking a bath.
He is a great example of how a social entrepreneur’s unique idea can impact the world positively, which in turn, provides an opportunity to upscale the business.
The key characteristic of a social enterprise is innovation. The youth are perfectly positioned to become social entrepreneurs as the odds are in their favour. They are in touch with new technological trends, which can only benefit them in their quest to solve problems and, most importantly, make a living.