Why “Social Entrepreneurship”

Social entrepreneurship is defined as entrepreneurship used to profitably confront social problems; or as  Prof. J. Gregory Dees described in his widely-cited essay, “The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurshipentrepreneurial approaches to social problems“. This definition therefore views social entrepreneurship as a distinct alternative to public sector initiatives. 

The basic thesis is that for many social problems, if looked at through an entrepreneurial lens, create opportunity for someone to launch a venture that generates profits by alleviating that social problem. This sets in motion a virtuous cycle – the entrepreneur is incented to generate more profits and in so doing, the more the profits made, the more the problem is alleviated. Even if it is not possible to eventually create a profit-making enterprise, the process of striving to do so can lead to a resource-lean not-for-profit entity. 

Creating a profitable social entrepreneurship venture is by no means a simple challenge. It involves deeply understanding how to prioritize a multi-mission entity, how to analyze and engage traditional agencies, how to formulate political strategies to develop influence and social assets in target beneficiary markets, how to forge negotiating strategies for securing resources, how to capture publicity for the enterprise, and generally how to minimize resource requirements.

“Teenager social entrepreneurship ?”

Social changes and intellectual progresses come fundamentally from innovative ideas; ideas are gained from knowledge, experiences and perspective. That’s why teenagers have unique advantages in generating ideas and generating impacts — we have unique perspectives and a unique set of experiences. 

Teenagers can have great ideas, we’ve all witnessed that in some way. However, we are frequently told we can’t make a difference and should follow the “traditional path” if we want to make an impact: we need to finish college, get a good job, accumulate enough experiences then change the world…….

Even when we have great ideas, we might not have the resources to make the next move, or carry the ideas from zero to one to ten. Adult investors typically don’t trust teenage entrepreneurs. Most high school schools and even universities neglect teaching students about how to make a difference through business and entrepnuership tools, neither do they provide resources to do so. This process further stigmatizes the minds and limits possibilities.

That’s where the Radicle Lab comes into play. We discover & inspire ideas, foster success by connecting ideas & resources in our students & mentors network, and use research-supported methods & self-developed curriculum to continue help student projects to grow. 

We believe the ideas of teenagers are among the most underutilized resources in the world. Imagine what a difference we can make if we can transform those ideas into real social impact. The Radicle Lab strives to do just that.

With only a few peer institutions serving similar mission and none being secondary school-focused, the Radicle Lab is trying to serve a unique role in social innovation.

By Haodi Shi


Nicholls, A. (2007), “The New Social Entrepreneurship. What Awaits Social Entrepreneurial Ventures?”, Equal Opportunities International, Vol. 26 No. 7, pp. 729-732.)

MacMillan, I. (2013), The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook

Dees, Gregory. (1998), “The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship