Social entrepreneurs provide innovative solutions to society’s most pressing problems. They recognize social problems and use entrepreneurial principles to create ventures focused on social change. Whereas a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur emphasizes the creation of social capital. The main aim of social entrepreneurship is to further social and environmental goals.

While social entrepreneurs are most commonly associated with the not-for-profit sectors, this need not necessarily be incompatible with making a profit, according to the Canadian Social Entrepreneurship Foundation.

Like many social entrepreneurs, Canadian executive Brian Paes-Braga is using his entrepreneurial edge to make the world a better place.

“I believe it is our social responsibility to give back.  To me, being a social entrepreneur is not just saying, ‘Hey, we will donate X percent of our sales to this nonprofit.’ It needs to go deeper than that.”

To that end, Brian Paes-Braga co-founded Quiet Cove Foundation with the goal of providing innovative solutions to large scale social issues. To date, the foundation has tackled issues such as homelessness and hunger.

“We encourage charities to think big, take risks, and disrupt the status quo,” Paes-Braga says.

The foundation’s New Leaf Project is piloting a socially innovative approach to homelessness, working in partnership with the University of British Columbia and other Vancouver organizations. Meanwhile, Quiet Cove’s Backpack Buddies Program supports weekend food distribution programs for children in Vancouver who rely on school meal programs during the week. Quiet Cove is also supporting a research project at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, a hospital for terminally-ill children with two locations in British Columbia.

“Transparency is essential for a successful social enterprise. Creating true impact is easier to achieve if you choose a cause that’s close to your heart,” explains Paes-Braga.

Around the world, there’s a long list of social entrepreneurs, including Shiza Shahid, co-founder and global ambassador of the Malala Fund. Shahid manages business operations for Malala Yousafzai, the teenager who became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Inspired by Malala’s desire to continue campaigning for gender equality and education, Shahid decided to work with Malala and led the creation of the Malala Fund, which helps empower women and girls by advocating for improved access to education.

Professor Muhammad Yunus is a social entrepreneur known for the popularization of microfinance and microcredit, which serve as the cornerstones of the Grameen Bank, which he founded in 1983. Yunus was awarded the Nobel Prize for creating the Grameen Bank, which provides borrowers with funding to start small businesses with the ultimate goal of alleviating poverty in the developing world. Most of Grameen Bank’s borrowers are women who pay their loans back at a rate of 97%, much higher than traditional banks.

Although social entrepreneurs work in a variety of fields, they have a common goal to improve social issues through their businesses or charities. Nonprofits and businesses are teaming up to form a new hybrid business model, led by a new generation of social entrepreneurs. As this business model evolves, there will be a rise in entrepreneurship based on social change on a worldwide scale.