The concept of Social Entrepreneurship started appearing nearly 40 years ago. Since 1980, Social Entrepreneurship gained huge momentum both among practitioners and academics/scholars. social entrepreneurs predict in the “here” and “now” social/environmental/cultural, etc. issues that might impact future societies. This clearly represents a challenge since, unlike most businesses who deal with opportunities or needs currently tackled within traditional economic and financial markets, social entrepreneurs lack of such references as they typically address less-mainstreamed issues that often lack of a comprehensive background literature.

Social entrepreneurs are explorers that make use of quantitative and qualitative tools to keep track of relevant dynamics that might impact for the worst modern societies and economies. They are capable of finding innovative solutions to problematic social issues by experimenting with alternative ideas and resources.

Social entrepreneurs belong to the third sector ecosystem, but unlike to cooperative and associations, social entrepreneurs do aspire to make a profit (i.e. generating revenue flows that are greater than the cost they normally incur) as at the end of the day they still have salaries, suppliers and distributors to pay.   


Social entrepreneurs assist policy makers’ interventions from grass-root and bottom-up dimensions by giving practical continuity to national/international programmes aimed at supporting citizens, businesses and civil society. If you feel like your entrepreneurial spirits are greatly motivated by a personal desire to contribute to societies for the better, the scenario of becoming a social entrepreneur might be of your appealing.
As already stated in the introduction, social entrepreneurship-related initiatives occupy a very particular spot as they typically address unseen/unknown domains.

In this specific module, you are requested to map, identify and assess potentials areas of commitment of your social enterprise. This task requires great critical thinking and bit of research efforts. You will be required to collect multiple sources (reports, literature reviews, data, etc.) that can help you in pinpointing the background of reference of your aspiring social enterprise.
Your main guiding questions will be:

1. What are the needs I’m focusing on
2. Why is this a social issue
3. What is the proportion of the phenomenon


To conclude this task, all you need is essentially a clear, precise, punctual and well-defined methodology of research. Here below you will find detailed instructions on how to create one:

  • Prepare an excel file that will help in organising and managing your resources (i.e., files and documents) that might catch your attention while browsing the Web
  • Separate the excel in columns. Each column will highlight the most important characteristic of the resources you might encounter:
    • Year of publication – the latest, the better (in general, it is recommended no older than 3 years)
    • Author/publishing organisation(s) – see point no. 4 for further details on which publishing source you should look into
    • Title of the report
    • Brief notes – the main takeaways from the document (i.e., statistics, percentages, critical lessons learned, etc)
    • URL
  • Write down the three key words of your research, for instance:
    • “women”, “education” and “rural Europe” in the case your social business idea aims to empowering the literacy of females in disadvantaged and non-urbanised areas of EU territories
    • “digital skills”, “young people” and “employment” in the case your social business idea aims at empowering young people’s ICT proficiency to strengthen their opportunities for employability and professionalisation

Note: Key words are essential for your analysis as they will allow you to:

  • navigate the Web more easily
  • cluster and classify the relevancy of each of the document/report you will encounter (see point no. 6 for reference)
  • Define a funnel of analysis and research. The information you need might typically be available from different kind of sources:
    • Large institutions
      • International level
      • European level
      • National level
    • Private sector
      • Usually, corporations ventures into the social dimension as beside their traditional corporate activities, they might carry on (and usually they do) national and/or international programmes inspired by social agendas
      • Labour associations and chambers of commerce are typically very active in social domains as they operate for the benefit of the labour market and economy
    • Third sector representatives and stakeholders that are related to the scope and scale of your proposal (i.e., groups of interest)
    • Academia and scholars in the research filed of social entrepreneurship phenomena
  • Navigate the funnel of sources. You are recommended to navigate these sources by following a precise methodology. You want to be consistent with an approach that goes from the “macro” perspective to the “micro” phenomenology. The more we manage to narrow down our research, the more detailed the information that we gather. At the same time, we want to be sure that our dataset is as reliable as possible, supported by trustworthy references and robust conclusions.

Pleas find here below the funnel as it should be navigated:

  • International Institutions. They typically represent the largest providers of evidence-based and worldwide datasets. Resources and information shared by these institutions are highly reliable and provide for a very useful background of reference.

All links that you are encouraged to look through are in the resources section.

Store your material and define a hierarchy of resources. In point no.3 we recommended you to pinpoint three key words of your social business idea. As we mentioned, not only this was intended to ease your browsing process, but to concretely help you in better organising and filtering your documents based on their actual relevancy.

Resources will be clustered following a specific methodology:

1ST best – The title of the selected document contains all three keywords

2nd best – The title of the selected document contains two out of the three keywords

3rd best – The title of the selected document contains only one out of the three keywords

First and Second-best sources will represent the very core of your background analysis: build your wealth of knowledge starting from there, be critical and creative in your analysis, take note and highlight main takeaways.  



The activities foreseen by this Quest might appear at times very time-demanding. Do not rush through the task, take your time to read carefully all the pieces of information your will encounter: at this stage of the process, you want to strengthen your overall knowledge on the issue(s) and enrich your cultural and education background.

Learning Outcomes

Competence Area 1: IDEAS & OPPORTUNITIES
  • 1.2) I can identify opportunities to solve problems in alternative ways.
  • 1.10) I can develop (alone or with others) an inspiring vision for the future that involves others.
  • 1.15) I can apply ethical thinking to consumption and production processes.
  • 1.17) I can identify the impact that taking up opportunities will have on me and my team, on the target group and on the surrounding community.
Competence Area 2: RESOURCES
    Competence Area 3: INTO ACTION