How is Social Entrepreneurship Done?

The traditional business practice of maximizing profit immediately has often lead to the detriment of society, manifesting itself in economic, social, and economic consequences, the signs of which were often willfully ignored. In contrast, social entrepreneurship employs long-term thinking in order to effect full-scale positive societal change. Social entrepreneurs such as Marc Mertens, founder and CEO of digital design firm A Hundred Years, named his business after this idea of long-term thinking. It is also reflected in the business’ industry niche, working only with companies with a social impact component.

“We’re testing a model that doesn’t make profit and impact mutually exclusive. Historically, impact has belonged to the non-profit world, while the business world has been oriented to the bottom line. We can have it both ways, we can run a successful business and make positive lasting change in the world.” - Marc MertensFounder & CEO, A Hundred Years

Successful Social Enterprises

Living Goods

  • US-based nonprofit
  • Founded by Chuck Slaughter
  • Sells essential products (fortified foods, pharmaceuticals, high-efficiency cookstoves) through an “Avon-like” network of microfranchisees in Uganda
  • Business model provides a modest income to franchisees and also covers the operating costs

Proximity Designs

  • Founded by Jim Taylor and Debbie Aung Din
  • Customize the delivery of agricultural-development services in rural Myanmar
  • Develops innovative, low-cost products designed to raise agricultural productivity; ex: solar-lighting systems, foot-operated irrigation pumps
  • Funding in part by selling products through a network of for-profit agricultural supply dealers in Myanmar
  • Financing programs also advance small loans at modest rates to ensure farmers can afford to buy the goods
  • Meets both needs and wants of clients

Fifteen

  • Founded by English celebrity chef Jamie Oliver
  • Offer disadvantaged youths (18-24) a means of creating better futures through the art of good food
  • Trained 220 young locals in the art of cooking and hospitality
  • Reinforced the value of local produce and cooking techniques

Jaipur Rugs

  • Founded by NK Chaudhary
  • Started in Jaipur Rugs and currently operated in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Focuses on producing high-quality and socially responsible floor coverings
  • Elevated the art of knotted carpet weaving by connecting local artisans directly to the global market
  • Sponsored health, literacy, vocational, legal, financial and entrepreneurial initiatives to inspire progress in communities where artisans work and live
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Steps for Starting a Social Enterprise