Geri Stengel

 
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Just What Is a "Socialpreneur?"

It's the era of word creation: anything beginning with "i" as in iPhone or "e" as in e-marketing and, it seems, anything ending in "-preneur" as in solo-preneur.

But with no one standardizing definitions, the process has gotten out of hand; conglomerate words are taking on multiple meanings. Case in point: socialpreneur.  

social entrepreneur, social media, socialpreneur, values-drivenAs a supporter and advocate of social entrepreneurship, I took "socialpreneur" to mean an entrepreneur whose purpose is to remediate social problems while making a profit. That included those whose businesses bring health, jobs or education where those things are lacking, whether by building playgrounds in the inner city or reducing landfills or improving education.

I like the concept that "socialpreneur" conjures up in my mind: a socially conscious entrepreneur. It merges social and business values in a neat package. 

I did not think of "socialpreneurs" as entrepreneurs who socialize via social media but that, too, seems to be the interpretation of the word by The Society of Socialpreneurs, a group of mostly work-at-home-moms who network via social media.

It is also the interpretation that rises to the top in Google search.

The online Urban Dictionary uses this definition as well.

But, wait, there's more! Women Entrepreneur has yet another definition: entrepreneurs who have leveraged the power of social media to start and grow multiple businesses.

This proliferation of definitions can only lead to confusion. Much as I like the term "socialpreneur" because it so well conflates socially conscious entrepreneur into a tidy package, I'm afraid we in this particular sector of "socialpreneurial" activity have to come up with something else.

And we do need to come up with a word! In this social media, internet-defined age, every character counts. "Social entrepreneur" and "socially conscious small business" take up a lot of characters. So does "values-driven business." "SocEnt," while concise, has no real meaning. Are we value-preneurs? That sounds like a good word for a freelance appraiser.

What word should we use? Is there a shorter way to say "social entrepreneur" that is unambiguous and uniquely ours?