Have you heard? Social entrepreneurship is all the rage these days. But what does it really mean? Let’s take a look at the defining characteristics of a social entrepreneur or social enterprise that practices social entrepreneurship and get inspired by three successful businesses making a social business mission happen in 2021.
What is Social Entrepreneurship?
The definition of social entrepreneurship varies but typically embodies a business or organization with an innovative solution that benefits society and generates revenue at the same time.
Social entrepreneurship is the act of solving a societal problem through a business venture. It’s a term used to describe people that use entrepreneurial strategies to create opportunities for economic and social change. These leaders make it their goal to make life better on a global scale by addressing issues like access to healthcare, clean water, education, and more.
Social entrepreneurs and social enterprises find possibilities in society’s problems and voids, creating sustainable solutions with an emphasis on improving society as a whole. If you are called to practice social entrepreneurship, your purpose, mission, and values are not just about starting your own company and being successful. Instead, it’s about making the world better through your own venture.
It’s the world-changing, fulfillment-attaining intersection of business with a social mission – it’s about merging profits with purpose.
Three Best Social Entrepreneurship Examples of 2021
There’s no shortage of social entrepreneurship examples today. We are seeing more and more entrepreneurs tackling issues like poverty, climate change, sustainability, and food security. You’ll find a spectrum of authenticity ranging from entrepreneurs fully engaged in social enterprise while barely making a profit to billion-dollar conglomerates who use a social mission to look better in marketing campaigns. So what do honest and successful social entrepreneurship examples look like?
Above all else, they have a burning desire to solve societal problems. They’re often selfless and give up personal time, money, and energy for the betterment of the whole.
Social entrepreneurship has been on the rise over recent years with many young professionals choosing to make it the core of (or at least part of) their business models. But there are also decades-old social enterprises leading the way to a better world through their products and services. Here are three social entrepreneurship examples to watch and learn from this year.
1. Ben & Jerry’s
If you love Cherry Garcia and you care about equity, sustainability, fair trade, dairy, and activism, Ben & Jerry’s is your leader to learn from in the social entrepreneurship movement. Indeed, the ice cream maker was one of the first companies on the planet to place social responsibility on the same level as their financial growth goals.
Ben & Jerry’s is a certified B Corporation (or Benefit Corporation movement), a new kind of corporation that harnesses the power of business to benefit society and address environmental issues. B Corps must adhere to the strictest social responsibility standards in order to get certified. As the very first wholly-owned subsidiary to become a B Corp, Ben & Jerry’s has led the way for social entrepreneurship since 1988.
2. Warby Parker
A socially responsible eyeglass enterprise, Warby Parker’s business model addresses vision problems across the globe. For context supporting how serious this issue is, the company maintains that 2.5 billion people worldwide can’t get the glasses they need to see correctly. At least 624 million of these are men, women, and children who are unable to study or work because their vision loss is so extreme.
Warby Parker’s solution is a social entrepreneurship example of innovation. They transformed the eyeglass industry by selling inexpensive eyewear online. For each pair of glasses Warby Parker sells, a person in need receives a pair of glasses, free of charge. With their “buy a pair, give a pair” campaign, they’ve addressed both the issue of excessively expensive eyewear and the international lack of access to vision care.
Started by a group of four college students with a $2500 grant, these social entrepreneurs have led their social venture to a $3 billion market valuation in 2021.
Taking on the traditional brick-and-mortar banking industry, this internet-only bank (neo-bank) is a certified B Corp and member of 1% for the Planet, a global movement confronting environmental problems. But that’s not all. Aspiration lets you decide what you’ll pay. Yes, even if it’s nothing.
However, for every dollar you do choose to pay for their products and services, they donate 10% to charities that help Americans hit with financial troubles create better futures for their families. If socially responsible banking gets you excited, keep your eye on Aspiration, or sign up for their new Zero credit card. Every purchase equals a planted tree.
Do you see the innovation taking place in each of these examples of social entrepreneurship? Their business models offer a win-win for people, the planet, and their business’ bottom lines. That’s the social entrepreneurship definition in action.
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