Social Enterprise and its multi-fold impact

Taking the unconventional route has its benefits – both for individuals and society. An exclusive interview with Davoud Mohamed, an upcoming social entrepreneur in France.

By CoBS Student Editor Kunal Ganorkar.

Social Entrepreneurship as a career choice

Not all businesses have the sole objective of making profit. Not all businessmen want to become billionaires. Some Entrepreneurs step into the field with a clear objective of impacting society and environment in a positive way.

Social Entrepreneurs have existed ever since the 19th Century. We may have all heard of Verghese Kurian and the AMUL revolution, Bill Drayton and his Ashoka Foundation or Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. However, the notion of Social entrepreneurship became popular in the 2000s, especially after the publication of “The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur” by Charles Leadbeater. It involves creating businesses with the primary goal of social change which may or may not be accompanied by profit generation. Today, in UK alone, there are over 450,000 social enterprises! So, what makes social entrepreneurship so attractive? They certainly aren’t in it for the money.

Davoud Mohamed, a young social entrepreneur and a recent alumnus of ESSEC Business School shares his journey with us and uncovers what makes social entrepreneurship lucrative for him and his team.

The question WHY

It is believed that to work for the betterment of society, one’s motivation must be in the right place. Davoud first began to challenge his resolve during his engineering years. Realising that engineering was not the right choice for him, he quickly dropped out and switched career lines, joining the field of business administration. Being a self-motivated individual, Davoud realised that the quickest way to test out his motivation and skills was to start his own venture. So began his journey towards social entrepreneurship.

As a youth from the 21st century, Davoud had multiple interests, of which two were particularly significant. As a conscious teenager, he always volunteered for social causes, particularly with regards to the global water crisis.  On the other hand, he was a sports fanatic and loved to organise sporting events and tournaments in his locality. As such, an amalgamation of these two things led to the foundation of Unité du Monde in 2016.

Unité du Monde was started with the objective of raising funds in the form of events, sporting or otherwise, and utilising them to construct wells in regions that face relevant water issues. In the last 3 years, he and his team have organised over 20 events, constructed just as many wells in countries such as Senegal and Mali, and engaged with over 5000 people. As such the idea is simple – funding social initiatives through commercial events and activities. But what takes the cheese is his execution.

On one hand, Davoud and his team leveraged their connections to reach out to the masses for marketing their events. An early endorsement from Moussa Dembélé, a renowned football star, was instrumental in his success. In the span of the next three years, the team has garnered support from several footballers and artists like Presnel Kimpembe, Kingsley Coman, Dadju and Marwa Loud as well as the Facebook community. You can picture how many people attend his events now!

On the other end, in order to garner support and expedite the process of his activities, he forged strong connections with local communities and activists in drought-affected regions. Involving the locals in the activities seemed to make the process even faster and engaging, he believed.

But all of this would not be impossible to do single-handed. Davoud believes that the movement has only been successful due to the undying contribution of his teammates, or ‘pearls’ as he likes to call them.

His necklace of ‘pearls’

With a strength in numbers, upwards of 40, Davoud states that the team is the most important part of an organisation and that the very existence of organisation depends on it. However, not everyone who joins necessarily stays. People are enthusiastic and supportive of his cause, but it takes a certain passion and drive to stay put with the rigorous challenges, especially when there is no monetary gain associated with it. As such, the ones who endure and remain turn out to be the most driven and dedicated individuals he has ever met. These individuals are highly valuable and rare according to him, which is why he calls them ‘pearls’. He believes that for individuals staying committed to a cause and undergoing the challenges that come with it is difficult, especially when there is no monetary gain associated with it. As a result, the ones who stay are the ones who are passionate and committed to the cause beyond comprehension. In his eyes, this makes them special.

So back to the question: Why are people taken to social entrepreneurship?

The multi-fold impact of Social Entrepreneurship

Davoud believes that the social enterprise has four impacts. On the front end, a social enterprise is like any other business – adding value to the lives of people by providing them with a service or a product at the right price.

In a social enterprise, the revenues generated from the sales are utilised for the betterment of society. In the case of Unite du Monde, funds are raised through entertainment and sporting events in the city areas on the front end and used for the providing hygienic and clean water sources for affected regions.

A third impact that Davoud talks of is that working for a social cause sensitises individuals about the hardships faced by the affected populations. This has a network effect and pushes more and more individuals to lead meaningful lives.

And finally, social enterprises such as his give the volunteers an opportunity to face real-world challenges and tasks which help them to grow as professionals. Davoud pushes for autonomy and pushes his team to tackle issues on their own by putting them in full control of individual projects. He believes this will empower them to start their own initiatives someday and increase their impact.

Seeing the benefits of social entrepreneurship and the challenges associated with it, one can conclude that this line of work is certainly not for the mild-hearted.

For those who wish to embark on the path of social entrepreneurship, Davoud recommends that it is essential to first find out one’s own motivation for doing it. The main objective should be to impact lives and not to make a profit off one’s activities.

Secondly, you should and be clear on your vision and share it with your team to ensure that everyone’s objectives are aligned. The social impacts should be well defined for each of the stakeholders involved.

And lastly, you should not be afraid of failures. Because it is only through failures that you actually learn the right way of doing things. In failure, it is the team and the shared vision that will help you to get support.

Davoud smiles as he quotes one of his favourite author, Mark Twain: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out WHY.” So go find your why.

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