By: Paul Selva Raj
The advent of the Internet and the subsequent breakdown of geographical boundaries to communication and collaboration has allowed the practice of entrepreneurship to evolve and transform. Entrepreneurship has flourished with the Internet and has opened up new avenues for any fledgling entrepreneur who wants to disseminate their ideas to the world. However, a new form of entrepreneurship which is more beneficial towards the public good has also been unveiled with these advances that specifically harness the Internet’s ability to connect people globally: social entrepreneurship.
Social Entrepreneurship involves efforts to develop ideas or pursue innovative solutions to solve social problems . More specifically and in the context of this article, social entrepreneurship involves creating social value for the community regardless of racial, religious or national allegiances. Undoubtedly, social media and free networking websites have been pivotal resources for the successes of many social entrepreneurs. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are the three most used platforms of social media to connect social entrepreneurs with the public.
The beauty of the Internet is that it allows for the pooling of a myriad of resources using such open source philosophies. Its very nature also ensures that messages can be heard by broader audiences and as a result, more help can be rendered to parent networks. This will provide entrepreneurs with a kick start to develop globally and subsequently achieve their goals with little to no start-up capital. This development paradigm which involves people from all over the world collaborating on solving problems is usually called crowdsourcing, a major component of social entrepreneurship.
Crowdsourcing is a way to access a global crowd of talented people and to channel their talent and creative effort towards a useful endeavour . Up and coming entrepreneurs, who may have limited resources, especially during the start-up phase of the business, will be attracted to crowdsourcing as a means to access funding, knowledge, subject matter experts, and resources on a global scale.
For example, Open Street Map (OSM) is a collaborative project to create a free, editable map of the world with the assistance of anyone in the world who possesses a Global Positioning System (GPS) device. OSM has been used recently by disaster/crisis relief organizations to share crucial up-to date information on which roads in a city are accessible and which roads are blocked in the wake of disasters or civil strife . This is a clear example of how technology can be used in tandem with an entrepreneurship mindset to cater to a public good.
Crowdsourcing is a fuel that drives the social entrepreneurship machine and with social media and distributed computing applications as its most common examples, this endeavour has gained considerable potency. There are many popular crowdsourcing platforms for social entrepreneurs interested in crowdsourcing.
 Derek Smith, Mohammad Mehdi Gharaei Manesh, Asrar Alshaikh – How Can Entrepreneurs Motivate Crowdsourcing Participants? – Retrieved fromhttp://timreview.ca/article/657#sthash.EZ7SwAUP.dpuf
 Marcia Stepanek Mar. 16, 2010 Crowdsourcing Social Change http://www.ssireview.org/blog/entry/crowdsourcing_social_change
Bio: Paul Selva Raj is currently pursuing a specialist in Interactive Digital Media (IDM) in the University of Toronto Mississauga. His interests include various Digital Technologies, Surveillance and Immersive Environments.