The daylong symposium was about â€śsocial entrepreneurship,â€ť a relatively new idea in business education but a well-established phenomenon. The concept focuses on people who undertake innovations in the social sectorâ€”addressing problems in society and advancing a particular social mission to serve a larger good. We Christians have long had people who fulfilled this roleâ€”indeed, they founded many of the institutions we now take for granted.
I was struck by the response of one of the leaders when I asked about the origins of the social entrepreneurship movement. He said that while many of the most important social institutions in the United States were started out of faith-inspired motivation by churches and denominations, these organizations had lost their steam in the last few decades. Today, he said, much of the energy for social entrepreneurship is emerging in secular contexts.