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What is Social Entrepreneurship?

Social Entrepreneurship.

Seems a little like this is the new buzz phrase, and lately, I’ve been seeing it more and more. 

But what, exactly, is it? 

On the most basic level, social entrepreneurship is using traditional business tactics to bring about change and awareness to communities and economies. These start-ups search for ways to improve the lives of others while creating and fostering some sort of product. 

Common on university campuses, with public officials, and in the media, this form of business has consumers turning their heads with interest.

And there’s something gripping about their stories. 

There’s something gripping about why these particular entrepreneurs are choosing this particular path. 

And consumers are identifying more and more with their causes. These innovative and creative people are coming up with life changing trades - and it’s working. They’re suddenly improving the lives of so many. 

Leveraging their assets and their advanced tech knowledge, these social entrepreneurs are creating a new model of business by linking up with traditional non-profit organizations. This new blurred line between business and charity is creating a sustainable, demonstrative cycle that is proving doubters wrong. 

While championing causes they’re passionate about, these social entrepreneurs are still ignited by the same passion that has fueled these hustlers since the beginning of time. The drive for success, the desire to work for oneself, and create a product that is used and loved is still a striking catalyst in this progressive movement. 

The need for proper planning, excellent accounting systems, and definitive discipline are still the pillars that make this kind of business work. And, like most other entrepreneurs, this new sector of game changers is propelled by the love of learning. The absorption of new information, practices, or data still is at the heart of social entrepreneurship. 

Maybe the line is drawn at values. The people wading in the waters of social change and business have their feet firmly grounded in what they believe is right - what will be beneficial, impactful, and necessary to a group in desperate need. With their social mission front and center, they do not alter their course. They stay true to the definitive reason they took up their cause to begin with. 

Specifically, there are three types of social entrepreneurship -

1) Non-profit social enterprise - This realm includes both private and public companies, and strives to address a government or market failure. There is a huge emphasis on philanthropic funding, and because of this - their partners have a compelling interest in the future of the organization.

2) For-profit social enterprise - This type of enterprise is created in order to solve a social problem. Investors are sought after, and ultimately, their returns are monetary and social. 

3) Hybrid social enterprise - Requiring the implementation of legal entities, this enterprise is rooted in the sales of goods and services. 

The “B-Corporation”

For those interested in forming a for-profit social enterprise, 19 different states offer a new type of business structure: the “B-Corporation” or benefit corporation. This entity option is reserved for for-profit businesses that have a central mission to foster and promote a societal benefit or public service. B-corporations can currently be formed in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington D.C. 

Friends, what are some of your favorite businesses that also have a focus on social impact? Do you have a dream of a future social enterprise or are you building one now? 

I’d love to hear all about it!

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