The Silver Lining of High Unemployment for Social Entrepreneurs

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Source: Ashoka

It’s hard to see anything good in recent unemployment numbers: 17% of college-educated young adults (ages 18-29) are either unemployed or not seeking work. But these grim unemployment statistics could actually be beneficial for social entrepreneurs.

A recent article focuses on the qualities of young adults who are currently unemployed: optimistic, well-educated, and privileged. These are ideal qualities to help social entrepreneurs start and run new businesses through volunteering. Not only that, these youngsters could serve as potential recruits to become social entrepreneurs themselves.

According to a piece written last year in the Wall Street Journal, with more skilled workers out of a job, volunteering is increasingly becoming a way to gain business skills and experience without actually having a job:

“Volunteering is giving out-of-work professionals the opportunity to develop skills, as well as network for job contacts in the process.”

Volunteering with social entrepreneurs can provide unemployed young adults with a particularly useful skill set. They can support causes they are interested in while developing skills like marketing, project management, and fundraising. And unique to social entrepreneurship, they can do so while learning firsthand how to start and run a new vision-based business.

To social entrepreneurs, unemployed young people are an invaluable asset. They have the education and ability to help with market research and fundraising plans. They are eager to learn new skills, and have time on their hands. In addition, young people involved with social issues early may become important supporters later on.

The high rate of unemployment is also a good excuse to inspire more young adults to come up with social initiatives of their own. Unemployment provides the time needed to start a new business. And given weak long-term job prospects, young adults may be more likely to take a risk now - or take advantage of fellowships like Ashoka’s.

The silver lining of high unemployment may be in the social sector. With so much brainpower being left unused, it is important to encourage social entrepreneurship now.