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The rise of the social entrepreneur

SIOBHAN LEATHLEY
Last updated 16:36 23/01/2014
Sam Rye
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Volunteer Impact founder and social entrepreneur Sam Rye.

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There is a new wave of entrepreneur, one who is socially focused and driven by the need to help their community rather than just make a profit.

So what drives them, and why do they do this?

One social entrepreneur, Sam Rye, is currently developing an app called Volunteer Impact, which encourages tech-focused volunteers into conservation projects.

Rye will give some of the profits generated from this to the environmental-volunteering sector.

"I strongly believe that success of a venture shouldn't [just] be measured in profitability - that's a regular measure of sustainability of the business.

"In short, we don't run our ventures to make money; we make money to run our ventures."

Attitudes such as this are increasingly common, as shown by the increasing number of social incubators and accelerators.

The founder of Wellington's business collective and incubator for socially bent entrepreneurs, Enspiral, said social entrepreneurship meant using the tools of business to make the world a better place.

Joshua Vial believed this was more important than making money.

"I don't believe you need to go broke doing this work, you can make a good living from it.

"But for me, solely chasing wealth seems futile. It doesn't light me up."

One current Enspiral project is Loomio, an online tool for group decision making inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Its co-founder Benjamin Knight said the profit maximising model limited the scope of business and project.

"Social enterprise is focused on delivering the most positive social impact, while using the revenue model to scale up."

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- Fairfax Media

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