By Iacovos Iacovides, Contributor
Every athlete will eventually retire from the pitch and they will have to move onto the next chapter of their lives. Of course, this is a question that they have to ask themselves well in advance. Most athletes want to stay close to the action either as coaches, technical directors and the sort or in tangential roles; for example, as pundits or agents. However, there is simply not enough space for everyone. Not everyone can be the next Carragher and Neville of punditry, or the next Pep Guardiola of coaching. Your post-retirement plan requires some degree of imagination and creativity.
Thankfully, athletes have gradually come to realize that and they started exploring other career options which are entirely unrelated to sport. One great example, is social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship can be defined as the ability to spot social issues and problems, and apply creative and entrepreneurial solutions to remedy them. In practice, social enterprises work to solve social, cultural and environmental issues. The secret to a successful social enterprise lies not only on focusing on a cause you are passionate about, but following the same principles as building any other business.
As a mature athlete, you should know by now which causes you hold dear and if you don’t that’s okay. Some key concepts that may help you pin down what it is you care about the most are: development, peace, community, equality and the environment. Of course, there are myriad possibilities.
Athletes have been leading social change throughout the course of history. Nowadays, it’s commonplace to find people who argue that athletes have a duty to serve as role models for their fans because they are at the intersection of sports and business in sport-obsessed society. Therefore, athletes have the power to reach people from all walks of life.
Take American-Indian professional tennis player and Princeton graduate, Shikha Oberoi, for example. She launched her media and lifestyle company, SDU Seva Inc., in 2013. She made six documentaries to push towards people becoming more involved in positive social change in India. Through her company, she has also created a reality show that is used as a platform for social entrepreneurs to gain visibility.
There are countless other examples of people who decided to build businesses on the principles of social entrepreneurship but Serena Williams is second to none. S by Serena, her fashion line, was created exclusively for women and offers inclusive, accessible and diverse styles with authentic designs. Her early-stage venture capital fund, Serena Ventures, however, is even more impressive. Its mission is to promote diverse and creative founders who seek to positively impact society with their ideas and products. According to its website, the fund’s clients include 53% women, 47% Black and 12% Latinos (percentages not mutually exclusive).
It should be clear by now, that social entrepreneurship is not the same as philanthropy and charity as there is a crucial difference: profit. Its defining characteristic is not necessarily its profit status, but rather the objective, nature or story behind its products or services; whether its products or services were created with the goal of making positive change. It can be as simple as eco-friendly coffee cups or as complicated as a PR company that takes on only young up-and-coming female athletes. In other words, their success is not only measured in terms of financial profit, but with the positive change they manage to make in the world, however that is defined.
A point of caution: It is a really difficult task to set off to change the world alone. Therefore, before entering into or building a venture to create a positive change you should consult with your advisor who can help you get in touch with the right people and form a solid plan to ensure the success and impact of your venture.
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