Idealism, Millennials & Social Enterprise

“You’re so idealistic… in time you’ll learn about the real world.”

Idealism has not always been a word that connotes naiveté, or that is met with condescension. Change makers and world shakers all started as idealists.

Millennials are idealists—one of the most idealistic generations to ever enter the workforce. Often mistaken for entitlement or narcissism, millennials believe in a world of possibilities.  As such, it is only natural that they are one of the biggest proponents of social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurs are the idealists who have not become jaded by ‘the real world,’ and neither have many Millennials.

Why does social entrepreneurship appeal to Millennials?

The Internet has fostered a type of connected generation completely unique from any prior. This platform gives people an opportunity to tell their story, in their own words; to share an idea, a story, a concept, to millions of people. The Internet has provided a foundation for learning about the world’s problems and a way for people to dissect and discuss various issues pressing their communities. We are a generation more aware of the problems facing our world and more connected to innovative solutions to solve them.  Our idealistic souls are tired of the status quo because we hear the stories of pain and suffering.  Social innovation and social entrepreneurship starts with a story to share, and Web 2.0’s focus on human connection brings stories front and centre.

However, there remains an issue facing Millennials and social enterprise: the lack of awareness surrounding what a social enterprise is and how social enterprise can help address our community’s challenges.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, who embodies typical Millennial idealism. She was musing an idea for the future, about fostering creativity by setting up a program to encourage art at international low-income schools. I could tell this idea was a passion, yet, she immediately discounted it when she considered it an “unrealistic” option, financial-wise. I asked her if she had considered social entrepreneurship.

“What’s that?”

After explaining the concept to my friend, she seemed inspired at the possibility. A new (and in many ways old) tool of community development that doesn’t mean sacrificing your livelihood for the cause.

These conversations need to happen more often.
Social enterprise is a tool that can help idealism flourish. That can helps IDEAS flourish.

Social enterprises are not only for the business-savvy—they are for the dreamers, the change-makers and those who want to make an impact. This is why Millennials are the perfect generation to make the change and innovate for impact in the community. Spreading the social enterprise message and stories is essential to creating interest in the generation who still believes in the ability to make impact and make change in the community and the world—while still being able to put food on the table.

Ella Purtill
Social Enterprise Communications Assistant
Pillar Nonprofit Network