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Social entrepreneurship is gaining momentum as more entrepreneurs aim to make a positive impact on society and there is great potential for our Kingdom to become a hub for Social Entrepreneurship in the region. Sure, it is a relatively new and emerging area in Bahrain, with more and more organizations identifying themselves as social enterprises driven by social purpose and innovation at their core, but there’s a reason why it’s so necessary.

Social Entrepreneurship was first coined by Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka, referring to entrepreneurship that aims to drive social transformation by solving society’s most pressing problems. A social enterprise is an organization with a clear social mission and strategy that combines innovation and enterprise, which allows it to be financially sustainable or has the objective to be sustainable. The key concepts and principles of social entrepreneurship include:

  • Addressing root causes rather than symptoms of social issues
  • The intent of achieving lasting improvement of societal issues
  • Innovation and market orientation
  • Collaboration across a diverse set of actors
  • Altering, shifting, and transforming systems

But, there are gaps that need to be addressed to empower startups and enterprises in this sector.

To support Social Entrepreneurship in Bahrain, The Bahrain Science Center for SDGs has initiated Ghaya; an ecosystem for science-driven social innovation and entrepreneurship. Ghaya works to support the social innovation community in the Kingdom to catalyze collaboration between local actors from all sectors to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The initiative aims to deliver a diverse range of programs relating to social innovation in order to raise awareness and build a culture of social entrepreneurship and innovation mindset.

 These programs are designed to involve and engage community members and those directly impacted by social innovation, ranging from high school students, job seekers, social entrepreneurs, public entities, private citizens and businesses!

According to a study done by the Center on the topic, they highlight the following for the development of the Social Enterprise sector:

  • Policy changes to support social enterprises
  • Improving access to data and locally relevant research to drive social innovation
  • Creating supporting infrastructure to address the needs and challenges of social enterprises 
  • Creating effective communication and collaboration channels
  • Enabling multiple avenues for social innovation funding and procurement
  • Positioning social entrepreneurship and innovation as viable career pathways

Having a passion to create change is awesome, and that drive marks social entrepreneurs as grassroots leaders who mobilize their communities to contribute meaningful to economic and social development. We have more than a few Social Enterprises you must have heard of leading by example:  

If you’re feeling inspired and looking to contribute with the development of Social Entrepreneurship in our ecosystem, worry not, we know of a few things you can do:

  • Volunteer with a local social enterprise. Ex: Shamsaha, Wonder Fitness Center, Bahrain Food Bank Collaborate and partner for impact with Social Enterprises
  • Buy products and services from social enterprises to support their funding and boost cross-sector partnerships
  • Be part of the global network Catalyst2030 and explore what they have to offer
  • Last but not least, spread the word and get involved!

As the Kingdom’s startup ecosystem continues to grow, it is essential to recognize the importance of these enterprises. They address key social and environmental challenges that traditional businesses often overlook and create great economic value by developing innovative products and services, creating jobs, and proving to be financially viable. 

Plus, social entrepreneurship leads to the creation of a more equitable and sustainable society with the right mindset and approach. You can learn more about it here. Social entrepreneurship is not only a powerful force for good, it’s also the newest potential for economic growth in Bahrain and beyond. So, what will your impact be?