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Nov 6, 2013

Social enterprise needs three types of entrepreneurs and innovators

Ashoka Fellow Al Etmanski gave an excellent speech at the opening plenary of the Social Enterprise World Forum.

He argued that three types of innovators and entrepreneurs are necessary in order to get a major social enterprise innovation off the ground:  Disruptive, Bridging, and Receptive. Here are brief excerpts that describe these three innovators.  Does your community have all three?  Can you identify who they are?  Do they know enough about social enterprise to play the following roles in making social enterprise an active player in sustaining our nonprofit sector?  If you are one of these innovators and want to help develop social enterprise in Central Ohio, email me at

Disruptive Innovators
Many of you in this room are disruptive innovators. You challenge the prevailing way of doing things. You shake the lethargy off the status quo. You wrestle a big idea to the ground. You make it concrete with limited resources. You prove it works. You may even replicate it a few times.

Despite your success your model does not easily become the new standard. Its implications are ignored or misunderstood. You may even become a threat to the system.

Bridging Innovators

Bridging innovators excel at spotting big ideas. You leverage your connections, reputation and resources. You translate and interpret the value of the disruptive social enterprise to the system and equally important the imperatives and subtleties of the system to the disruptors.  Foundations need to be great bridging entrepreneurs.

Receptive Innovators
Bridging Innovators are the link between disruptive entrepreneurs and a third group – receptive entrepreneurs.

Some people call you institutional entrepreneurs or intra-preneurs. You are key to implementing BIG IDEAS.

You have an insider’s knowledge of the key levers to advance an issue within a system. You are navigators. You know the formal and informal channels inside the bureaucracy, who the key players are, where the snags are and how to portage around internal obstacles.