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Social Enterprise

This guide will help you locate information on a variety of social enterprise resources.

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Katie Edson
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Subjects: Nonprofit

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Social enterprise goes by many names with as many definitions.  Whether it is a social business, conscious capitalism, benefit corporations, or the fourth sector, they all share a common goal - to combine business with doing good.

A few definitions of commonly used terms:

Social Enterprise:  Business exists to solve a social issue. Combines commercial and social goals, but with emphasis on a social mission.

Social Business: Combines commercial and social goals. The investment would lead to an equivalent increase in social impact.

Conscious Capitalism: Recognizing that every business has a purpose that includes, but is more than, making money. By focusing on its higher purpose, a business can create more value.

Benefit Corporation: For-profit corporate entity that includes is a positive impact on society, workers, the community, and the environment in addition to profit. (Can also receive a certification).

According to the Fourth Sector Group, in recent years there has been a convergence of movements, "Led by pioneers, innovators, and thought-leaders who have been challenging the status quo—reimagining finance, law, accounting, business, and philanthropy; rethinking the delivery of healthcare, education, and social services; reinventing products and industries, from agriculture and energy to apparel and transportation; and not least reconceiving the role of business in society and the fundamental purpose of the economy. These sympathetic movements have been instrumental in shaping the fourth sector and paving the road for its adoption and growth."

Some notable examples include:

  • Affirmative Businesses

  • B Corporations

  • Base of the Pyramid

  • Blended Finance

  • Blended Value

  • Cause Marketing

  • Circular Economy

  • Conscious Capitalism

  • Cooperatives

  • Community Development Finance

  • Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Social Innovation

  • Fair Trade

  • Impact Investing

  • Inclusive Business

  • Kyosei

  • Natural Capitalism

  • New Economy

  • Shared Value

  • Social Business

  • Social Enterprise

  • Social Entrepreneurship

  • Social/Solidarity Economy

  • Social Ventures

  • Socially Responsible Investing

  • Stakeholder Accountability

  • Sustainability

  • Sustainable Development

  • Sustainable Enterprises

  • Transparency

  • Venture Philanthropy