The rise of the MAD Entrepreneur

MAD entrepreneurs and MAD entrepreneurship — it’s not as mad as it sounds. For a few years now, Make A Difference (MAD) entrepreneurship has been my alternative name for social entrepreneurship, as I feel ‘make a difference’ really sums up what these types of entrepreneurs do. They focus their passion and vision on a mission that contributes to public good and leads to positive change. They are innovative and creative, they continuously learn, and they are open to new opportunities.

Why is MAD entrepreneurship growing in popularity?

The public, in general, are increasingly scrutinising businesses and often find them lacking in social responsibility. In recent years, businesses have responded in some regards with more ethical approaches and declarations of Corporate, Social and Environmental Responsibility values. But is it enough? Individuals are more demanding and their attitude towards consumerism is changing. People are more attracted to companies that have a strong social ethos — in other words, a sense of purpose.

A lot of this is down to the rise of millennials, or Generation Y as they’re sometimes called. Many claim this age group are completely different to others before it, but I’m not completely sure of that. However, I do believe millennials have a different set of expectations. The world they have grown up in has shaped their social conscience and so they assume and expect more than other groups, and are also more confident in sharing their views and asking questions.

So why else is MAD entrepreneurship on the rise? It’s not just about charity or the more traditional “not for profit” sector — it’s about “profit for purpose”. This means meeting high consumer demands, whilst knowing you can feel good about giving something back to society.

The MAD entrepreneurs to know

One of most established and well-known examples in the UK is Innocent Drinks. They established the innocent foundation in 2004, 6 years after starting the company, and use 10% of their annual profits ‘to do good things with’ So far they have committed over £2.4m and directly helped over 530,000 people.

Often these businesses are about a cause or a social change, such as US-based TOMS Shoes. TOMS Shoes founder, Blake Mycoskie, is passionate about helping disadvantaged children so with every pair of TOMS Shoes purchased, the company give a pair away to a disadvantaged child.

The best social entrepreneurs look out for opportunities in places where others might not. Take the Australian WGAC (Who Gives A Crap?) who put 50% of their profits into building sanitation for impoverished communities, for example. They were clever enough to utilise a product that everyone needs — toilet roll — and turn it into something creative. They kicked off WGAC with a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo, where one of the founders sat on a toilet in the WGAC warehouse and refused to move until they had raised enough pre-orders to start production. Their creative idea worked — they generated a ton of publicity and raised $50,000.

Could you be a MAD entrepreneur?

If you feel passionate about a certain cause, that’s a good place to start.

· What problem do you want to solve?

· Who you want to serve, and where and how you will serve them?

· What talents and skills do you have?

· What additional resources will you need?

On a final note I just wanted to share with you that I am honoured to be a judge at the Great British Entrepreneurs Awards 2017 on the ‘Entrepreneur for Good Award’ panel. I’m looking forward to meeting some inspiring social entrepreneurs! Let’s do more to promote the cause and encourage more people to be MAD entrepreneurs. If you know anyone who fits the bill, why not nominate them?

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts below or tweet @SafarazAli.

Kind regards,