Ethnography of Social Entrepreneurs


How might we enable more young people to become social entrepreneurs? 

Los Angeles is home to a growing community of social entrepreneurs who are interested in tackling some of the world's toughest challenges.

Yet many social entrepreneurs feel unsupported, lack solid mentorship, and struggle to stay afloat. 

Our ethnographic case study focused on uncovering pain points that existed for entrepreneurs who were entering the field or in the early stages of development and exploring the intersections that drive innovation, sustainability, and social infrastructure in local communities. 


Resources are increasingly abundant. So why is it so hard to be a social entrepreneur? 

The challenge is de-centralization of networks and the context of independent endeavors.

Entrepreneurs by nature exist at the edge of defined spaces and are usually developing solutions outside the traditional infrastructure and support many teams have in place.  

Key drivers that activate social entrepreneurs include:

  • A problem that lacked innovative solutions
  • Dissatisfaction with current systems
  • Skills that could be applied or put to use 
  • Desiring "meaning" in their career path 

How might we facilitate a process of discovering and maintaining mutually-beneficial mentorships or partnerships? 

After framing several problem statements, we realized that many social entrepreneurs lacked a clear roadmap that could support them through challenging times. 

Whereas other professional roles have clearly defined career paths, social entrepreneurship is redefining what business and success looks like

From this perspective, it can be difficult to navigate without a compass. Our prototype was designed to help entrepreneurs clear their minds, identify areas where they need further resources or support, and share their path with others.