A social entrepreneur, as defined by Wikipedia, “recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change.” During a recession, when people are suffering the most, social entrepreneurs in the African-American community, especially women, have risen to the challenge of attacking some of the most persistent social ills. What is also clear during these perilous times is that more and more of those taking the MBA track are seeking to take a socially conscious entrepreneurial path by investing their time and energy toward social entrepreneurship.
Organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Skoll Foundation, Echoing Green and others have recognized the efforts of individuals to make a real difference in their communities and the world, by supporting rising stars in the social entrepreneurship movement. While the glass ceiling is still prevalent within the world of entrepreneurship, female social entrepreneurs have had an easier time of it where ideas and passion have allowed women to achieve near parity in their endeavors.
The key to lifting oneself out of poverty is education. The key to community improvement is education. Ann Higdon, Founder and President of Improved Solutions for Urban Systems (ISUS) began her quest to educate youngsters, due to their troubled history or academic shortcomings, in 1992 when she founded ISUS.
Ms. Higdon’s dedication to her cause paid off when, in 1999, she opened her first dropout recovery career and technical school. She now has three schools which, just two years ago, accomplished quite a feat by placing in the top fifteen highest performing schools in Dayton, Ohio.
In 2011, Ms. Higdon was one of the recipients of the Manhattan Institute’s Richard Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship.