In this section, we will first describe how opportunities are identified and then in turn discuss how to organize a social entrepreneurship venture, where to find funding and other resources, and what to consider when evaluating the results of the venture. Finally, we will discuss some concerns about going to scale. This section will follow the general startup sequence shown in Figure 15.2.
Identifying opportunities may be accidental or deliberate and will be considered in that order. Occasionally, for some social entrepreneurs, the moment of opportunity identification seems to come out of the blue. In 1979, Dan O'Neill, then 24 years old, was watching television reports of thousands of Cambodians fleeing into Thailand to escape the brutal killings by Pol Pot. That was his moment of decision to start Mercy Corps, a nonprofit innovator that is now one of the world's largest humanitarian aid organizations that responds to natural disasters and civil wars around the world in order to aid victims and rebuild essential services, with $221 million in revenues in 2007. For Sarah Usdin, founder of New Schools for New Orleans, the moment of revelation was Hurricane Katrina. Social entrepreneurs see opportunity in times and places where others do not, a characteristic described by George Bernard Shaw's often invoked words: "Some people see things as they are and ask why. I see things as they never were and ask why not."