Courtney Spence on How to Define Social Entrepreneurship

In Chapter 17 of 19 in her 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, non-profit executive Courtney Spence answers "How Do You Define Social Entrepreneurship?"  Spence learns from her father, who learned from his mother, it is about leaving the world a better place than he or she found it.  She believes it has little to do with legal structure - for-profit or not-for-profit - and more to do with cause, intention, and purpose to affect change.  Courtney Spence returns to CYF for her Year 3 interview.  As Founder and Executive Director, Spence leads non-profit Students of the World to empower college students to use film, photography, and journalism to tell stories of global issues and the organizations working to address them.  Spence graduated with a BA in History from Duke University.


Erik Michielsen: How do you define social entrepreneurship?

Courtney Spence: So a social entrepreneur wants to leave a place better than he or she found it. That is a lesson that my father taught me, that was taught to him by his mother. But if I think if you distill it down, what is a social entrepreneur, it is someone that cares about the world or their community or their family or an individual and wants to help make that situation better through his or her actions and leadership and idea. And, you know, that can be for profit, it can be non-profit, I quite frankly wish that we could stop using those words to describe what it is that we do, because quite frankly they’re legal structures, you can have non-profits that are terrible and that hurt the world and you can have for profits that are great and help the world. But what, you know, the best are the ones that do well and do good, and that are social enterprises and that are cause driven, that are socially driven and I think the world could use more of them.