Three unlikely quotes for social entrepreneurs

By Tiana Reid, Editor and Community Manager at SocialBusiness.org.

There are already a slew of “quotes for social entrepreneurs” blog posts out there but how can social entrepreneurs pull from other spaces?

What’s so great about the tight-knit #socent community is that, well, it’s tight-knit. At the same time, however, sometimes, like all communities, it’s too inward-looking and can become a recycling bin for so-called best practices.

In light of all that, here are three unlikely quotes for social entrepreneurs:

“I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” – Anaïs Nin

To say that Anaïs Nin’s writing has depth would be an understatement. This quote in particular is next-level cathartic. I mean, the social entrepreneur has feelings too. What’s more, for the business creator, it speaks to not only to diving deeper into models and impact, but also to mysticism. Surrendering to the outside, to forces beyond control (and not in a religious sense), can relieve stress and create a “breath in, breath out” moment.

“The only problem with seeing too much is that it makes you insane.” – Phaedrus

I chose this almost to counteract the Nin quote. (You see what I did there?) Social entrepreneurs, much like more “traditional” charities and non-profits, are bombarded with the need to measure everything. Sometimes it’s crucial to step back, look at the big picture and think like a toddler, that is, ask why. Why are you measuring this? Why is this measure important? Why aren’t I measuring something else? It could always be otherwise.

“Feminism is for everybody.” – bell hooks

Not simply a quote, this one is also a book on passionate politics. In it, hooks defines feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” For her, feminism(s) is/are intertwined with race, class and sexual orientation (etc.) — the infinite intersectionalities. So, this stems beyond “mere feminism” and everyone, not just social entrepreneurs, needs to recognize and acknowledge privilege and oppression alike. What’s particular about social entrepreneurs, and anyone in the business of social change, is that people often think they’re always helping. On-the-ground services, donations in particular, can have positive and negative consequences on the market economy, local culture and the entire big bad globe. In particular, the way in which the West talks about Africa (not a country!) is often clouded with racism—in spite of, or perhaps because of, the seemingly altruistic nature of social good. Just look at this.

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