The days of the single social entrepreneur are over. The lone wolf standing on the edge of the cliff, surveying the world below, strategizing in their lonesome mind how to solve its myriad problems- is dead.
More and more, we find collaborative teams, cofounders with complimentary skill sets starting social enterprises. The Trust Fund kid and the Gandhian activist on a hunger strike stereotype is being replaced by a gang of college friends who went on a mission trip together, colleagues who quit their corporate desk jobs together to solve a social problem they are obsessed to find a solution to.
One of them is the visionary and strategist, the other builds all the operational systems, the extrovert is in charge of communications, and the introvert deals with the lawyers and accountants. The New Age social entrepreneurs recognize that each of these talents and jobs are equally important in building a successful social enterprise.
The Generation Z Social Entrepreneur does not try to own their idea for social change, but is handing it out for free at street corners to whoever will take it, and converting the non-takers, too! And so, the fastest growing trend in social entrepreneurship is to create platforms that allow everyone to engage with social change.
Crowd-funding platforms like Global Giving, Citizen Journalism sites like Global Voices Online, global online campaigning sites like change.org, are all enabling everyone, irrespective of how much money they have or how much time, where they are geographically based, to participate in social change. One can donate from as less as $10, or spend just 10 minutes uploading a video of a corrupt traffic police taking a bribe.
There is one organization in particular, I am a big fan of, Mojolab, that enables rural communities to report information, news and grievances through their mobile phones, and takes action on addressing problems faced by these communities.
Mojolab develops communications systems and tools to help communities set them up to build effective communication models and networks. Simultaeoulsy they help build capacity by providing training programs and project management support to communities using these communication tools, so they can better report news from their communities.
All Mojolab research, development and testing happens at innovation centers called “Hackergrams” (“I am because I do” Village), which function out of unused spaces set up to be workspaces with reused materials.
Mojolab has found that the most effective impact generating actions are taken by people NOT engaged in full time impact generation activity. And so, Mojolab works through a large network of volunteers, whose days jobs are lawyers, accountants, NGO professionals, content writers, because they have found that these volunteers are likely to be more efficient at generating impact if its NOT their primary responsibility or source of earning. To engage the volunteers further, Mojolab provides them with non-tangible incentives, like mastery of a new skill or recognition. So, a web designer learns to file a Right to Information Act to investigate why a village doesn’t have a tubewell, an entitlement under the Indian Constitution, and in turn generates impact of bringing a tubewell to the village.
Mojolab is a tribe, functioning on a tribal economy of barter, engaged in the equal exchange of new skills and recognition for social impact. And so, rather than looking for the ‘leader’, the time has come for all of us to look for our ‘tribe’, not for someone we can follow, but for a movement we can be part of.