Millennials and the Social Entrepreneurship Revolution

11939709486_1aa2691980_zBy Solène Pignet

We have all heard about millennials, also known as Generation Y (Gen Y), or a generation that struggles to fit in the job market (because of the crises which give less job opportunities and, most importantly, because of the value gap with the existing corporate culture).

In this article, I want to share with you why I think Gen Yers are made to become social entrepreneurs.

As you might know, Gen Y has been defined as such as opposed to Generation X — born between the ’60s and the ’80s, those post baby-boomers who grew up during the Cold War. More educated than their elders, they are more ambitious too: Competitive and independent, Gen X saw life as a race where you have to go fast and earn a lot of money to be socially considered as successful.

Gen Yers are different. We grew up together with the Internet, large access to affordable travel, the urge of climate change and social disparities disappearance ambition. Conveniently, Gen Y is pronounced as Gen “why” – which makes it even easier to define:

Career equals purpose

The WHY matters more than the how much: We seek for purpose in our career more than just a way of earning money.

Innovation and out-of-the-box thinking 

We like doing things differently and embrace changes rapidly. Actually, change is something we aspire to.  WHY not? Nothing is impossible.

Collaboration 

We feel we can benefit from our elders experience as much as they can benefit from our perspectives. Collaboration is thus much preferred to pyramidal organization (yeurk), as it allows everyone to express its creativity and true talent – which is one of the key reason WHY we work.

Have an impact

Another reason WHY we work is making a difference in the long term. Having a game-changing impact is a key motivation, versus short-term individual financial return.

I guess you start wondering WHY did I put “social entrepreneurship” in the title of this article … Right?

There are many definitions going around the Internet trying to define social entrepreneurship. Basically, social entrepreneurs are tackling social issues (such as health, education, access and equality, peace, poverty alienation, cultural or environmental preservation, etc) using business methods. When “standard” entrepreneurs measures success in financial profit, “social” entrepreneurs much prefers to measure the positive impact on society – while making money at the same time.

I would like to stress that social businesses are not charities. As Muhammad Yunus says so truly, “Charity is no solution […] Most often we use charity to avoid recognizing the problem and finding the solution for it.” Social entrepreneurship is about finding solutions. A sustainable revolution that will truly change the world.

So, WHY does Generation Y have the ability revolutionize the world through social entrepreneurship?

Career equals purpose

Social entrepreneurship is a great way to align your career with your purpose. Working for a company is most of the time synonymous with contributing to someone else’s purpose and ambition. Social entrepreneurship is not only about being your own boss, it is about fulfilling your life purpose and living meaningful experiences.

Innovation and out-of-the-box thinking

Social entrepreneurship requires leaders to find solutions where others only see problems. Today’s social and environmental challenges may seem insurmountable to many … but not to Gen Y! We grew up with no more war in west Europe (after non-stop rivalries for centuries), unbelievable medical discoveries, the end of apartheid in South Africa, and gender equality becoming a reality (in some places of the world at least). We believe in positive change, and we believe it won’t come from an “invisible hand” or politicians. We can make it happen.

Collaboration

Social entrepreneurs are constantly making connections, networking, sharing ideas and working in diverse groups. Gen Yers are natural human connectors, both in real life and online. Global networking ability is a key success factor for Gen Yers to spread the word about their game-changing solution and create a truly wide impact with their social venture.

Have an impact

Social entrepreneurship is a fantastic way to have an impact on our society. And not whatever impact: The one you chose and the one you are truly committed to. Social ventures have positive impact without compromising: Social positive impact and environmental long-term preservation are aligned with financial incomes.

If you are a Gen Yer, and recognize yourself in this article, WHY aren’t you becoming a social entrepreneur?!

Image credit: Flickr/Aimee Custis Photography

Solène Pignet is the founder of Creators for Good, an online consulting agency guiding global citizen creating their social business. She is passionate about purpose-driven creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, international collaboration and alternative economy.

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9 responses

  1. Right you are! The Boomers feel they are willing to ‘do the time’ so they label them difficult and hard to manage. In truth Gen Y is simply insisting on what the Boomers hoped to have, but stopped fighting for. We can only hope that Gen Y will not give up!

  2. Social entrepreneurship is charity part of the “non profit industrial complex” of foundation funded social innovation. Social enterprise and social business are self sustaining and autonomous.

  3. Woah! There are some massive bullshit generalizations in this post, which undermine your entire argument. “More educated than their elders, they are more ambitious too: Competitive and independent, Gen X saw life as a race where you have to go fast and earn a lot of money to be socially considered as successful. Gen Yers are different.” The assertions contained within those two sentences have no basis in scientific evidence whatsoever – and they could never be verified even if you tried. There is no difference between Generations X & Y – these are fantastical divisions and your perceptions are simply your own projections.

  4. This is a conversation to be having, though. It’s hard to talk about Millennials and Boomers without generalizing.

    I see many Millennials take things into their own hands more graciously and more quickly than any from the Boomer generation. If the human race is heading in the right direction that should be true. It means we Boomers did our job!

    The change looks exponential to me, which is a good thing if we have a chance of saving the planet.

    In my memory, Boomers did a little more shaking of our fists at our elders, “the establishment”, and weren’t quite as forward looking as the Millennials and isn’t that what evolution is about? If we’re getting worse and not better it’s on all of us.

    I liked the statement, “We feel we can benefit from our elders experience as much as they can benefit from our perspectives. Collaboration is thus much preferred to pyramidal organization (yeurk), as it allows everyone to express its creativity and true talent – which is one of the key reason WHY we work.”

    …… although I don’t witness that as a truth quite yet. Sounds good on paper. The innovations Millenials have come up with in such a short time is astounding me. But they can thank the Boomers for giving them the tools and imparting to them the urgency of their task ahead. No one gave up. Every generation has a slightly different task in the process of evolution.

  5. Great article I like it and I quote “Having a game-changing impact is a key motivation, versus short-term individual financial return… Social entrepreneurship is not only about being your own boss, it is about fulfilling your life purpose and living meaningful experiences.”

  6. This is absolutely fantastic. Great articulation of social business. Somehow the impression that ‘social’ means charity has gotten rooted so deeply that it will take some dislodging for conventional business think to believe that it has nothing to do with charity. By all means make money but also make a positive social impact. Thanks for a great article.

  7. I love the fact that you point out how the relationship with employers is changing. Employers are wise to understand that their relationship with employees should be a win-win, including providing meaning to both. Great article!

  8. Can we stop ghettoizing boomers? The trends you describe are about a values shift that involves everyone regardless of age. Sorting society by age groups and assigning characteristics to that group based on age is about as useful as assigning limiting characteristics by race. Hate to break it to you but those looking for impact, purpose etc out of their work have always been around…..and the elevations of theses values is a cultural shift writ large….not the purvue of 30 something’s….

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