Exploring the social cognitive factors that motivate individuals to start their social enterprises in KwaZulu-Natal.
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Social entrepreneurship (SE) is increasingly gaining prominence in the academia with its propensity to combine business principles with social sector mindset in addressing community issues that government institutions are failing to address. The increasing inequality is relegating poor communities to poverty and its associated struggles across South Africa. South Africa is currently plagued by a series a complex socio-economic challenges including unemployment, poverty, and inequality. These problems become particularly acute when looking at the previously disadvantaged communities. The province of KwaZulu-Natal is one of the poorest provinces in the country behind Eastern Cape and Limpopo. There is an increase in the number of people living below the poverty line (BPL) which ultimately increases the number of people who are dependent on social grant. Several studies from developed and developing countries point to ‘social entrepreneurship’ as a vehicle to be used to drive and/or facilitate the development of societies in the world. Social enterprises involve a range of organisations (not-for-profits, for-profits, and hybrid structures) within the social and solidarity economy (SSE) which find alternative ways that directly and indirectly address existing socio-economic challenges. Perusquia and Ramirez (2019) define social entrepreneurship as a practice in which an entrepreneur – either a traditional business-minded individual or someone that emerges from the public or non-profit sector – sets out to solve social problems in a way that combines business management skills with social sector acumen to yield a sustainable enterprise that derives both financial and social returns. This study develops an understanding of factors that influence the decision for individuals to start their social enterprises. Social entrepreneurs are particularly important in Local Economic Development (LED) because they provide alternative delivery systems for public services such as education, health, employment, and poverty reduction in areas where government has failed. The aim of this study was to explore the social cognitive factors that motivate individuals to start their social enterprises within their communities in KwaZulu Natal. The study used non-probability sampling - purposive sampling to identify participants, and these are the 12 individuals who are part of the Champions Programme hosted at the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). The participants were chosen because they have established social enterprises across KwaZulu-Natal through which they are addressing some important socio-economic problems within their communities. This is a qualitative study based on Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory, which posits that the decision-making process for choosing a behaviour depends on the personal and environmental factors that shape the resultant behaviour. The study is premised on social constructivism as a research paradigm, and the ontological assumptions posit that participants have had different personal experiences with the various community settings, as a result, the motivation behind their decisions to start their social enterprises are different and subjective to the personal experiences and environmental conditions that prevail. Thus, the study sought to define the personal experiences of participants, identify the context and/or community setting, and find out how personal experiences interact with community conditions to encourage them to start their social enterprises. In order to do this, the researcher employed ethnography as a research methodology to collect data and the study used participant observations and semi-structured interviews. The data were analysed using Nvivo data analytical tool. The sample participants come from townships (Umlazi, KwaMashu, Inanda, and Oribi Village) while some come from poor rural areas (Underberg, Amandawe, Maphumulo, Stanger, and Howick) within the province. These areas are characterised by largescale poverty, increasing population, illiteracy, poor infrastructure (schools, clinics, water, and electricity) which affects the quality of services provided in these communities. Furthermore, economic activities in these areas are based on informal economy and small-scale farming and these are affected by the microeconomic forces such as skills, education and training, access to capital, geographic location and market access. Social problems that emanate include drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, and crime. The participants have had a blend of personal experiences which range from traumatic childhood experiences to transformative events in their later life course. Childhood experiences are characterised by trauma, for example, of losing both parents to HIV/AIDS, experiencing financial problems and poverty, and/or growing up in a troubled family background. Transformative events include gaining religious beliefs, educational qualification, studying abroad, and relocating from rural areas to live in urban areas. These experiences form an important foundation for participants to become aware of the social problems in their communities. The desire to solve existing problems stems from personal struggles with problems, compassionate feelings, and moral judgement. The participants in the study are motivated by a series of personal and environmental factors to start their social enterprises. These include existing problems in the community, personal struggles, helping behaviour, self-fulfilment, and social impact. These factors are further influenced by the outcome expectation or consequences associated with starting a social enterprise. The consequences revolve around meeting social needs that government has failed to meet. As a result, social entrepreneurs start their social enterprises to solve the problems that exists within their community setting and apply business principles to sustain and capture the social value. This is done through combining social sector experience with an entrepreneurial mindset.