The purpose of this study was to explore the background and motivations of social entrepreneurs. The research specific to social entrepreneurship indicates that solving a social need is the entrepreneur’s dominant motivational factor. The business literature research suggests that business entrepreneurs are motivated by the tradeoff between risk and profit. While the social entrepreneur does have a self-sustaining, revenue generating mechanism in the business model, profit is not the overarching goal. This study addresses the question of how social entrepreneurs’ motivation and background influence how they identified opportunities, launched their ventures and structured their businesses. Structured interviews were conducted with fifteen social entrepreneurs and included participants who have experienced both successful and failed projects. The study found that the social entrepreneur is motivated by an intrinsic calling or vocation, due to past crucible moments or leadership passages. This suggests that social entrepreneurs have other motivations than their nonprofit or commercial counterparts.