In the past entrepreneurs used to be those who had an idea, started a business and their main goal was to make profits. They would write out a business plan, convince investors to back them and work tirelessly to create a profitable business. However, nowadays startups are a key part of our economic structure. Entrepreneurs might not be as focussed on simply making a profit as they were in the past, but instead they might be motivated to make the world a better place.
The definition of social entrepreneurship is a business venture which focuses on addressing social issues, rather than profit. These businesses can be set up in a variety of different ways from a for-profit or a non-profit model, to a hybrid model of the best of both formats. Businesses defined by a social entrepreneurship business model use their funds to support operational costs and develop programmes to help those in need. Although social entrepreneurs practice the same skills as a regular business, there are some things which make them stand out.
Both a socialpreneur and an entrepreneur start their businesses in a similar way, but it is their end goals which make them stand out from each other. A social entrepreneur’s end goal is not focussed on high profit margins and making a lot of money. Instead a social entrepreneur is highly focussed on making the world a better place.
Structurally, businesses run under a social entrepreneurship business model can look different to a normal business venture. They can be run by unpaid volunteers or people could contribute on their own accord. Funds can also be raised by the community and a social entrepreneurship often places community front and centre of its business model. Social entrepreneurship are mostly stand-alone ventures, but they are occasionally set up by entrepreneurs who want to give back to society. Let’s look at five examples of successful social entrepreneurship businesses.
If you think about successful social entrepreneurship businesses, TOMS is the social entrepreneurship example most people think of. TOMS was founded in 2006 with a one-for-one model. For every shoe sold, TOMS would donate a pair to a child in need. Now, TOMs has become incredibly successful, and now they have expanded to provide not just shoes but to also run a range of different services to help people in need across the world. The services they provide range from eyecare to access to safe water.
Ben and Jerry’s is mostly known for their high-quality ice cream, but they are also a brand which focuses on projects to help society, using their profits for social good. The business supports radical, positive social change in areas like ecological-friendly farming, racial justice and LGBT+ issues. Their ice cream may be significantly more expensive than other ice creams at the store, but their profits help to make sure that their workers are paid a living wage.
Lush is a soap and cosmetics company that focuses completely on environmental and ethical causes. The company uses limited packaging, with many of its products available in a solid, package-free form and they donate millions to environmental causes each year.
United by Blue is an outdoor apparel store, which commits itself to removing one pound of rubbish from the ocean and the world’s waterways for every product purchased. At time of writing, they have removed over four million pounds of rubbish from the ocean.
FIGS is a company that manufactures hospital scrubs for healthcare workers. These scrubs are not only very comfortable and practical, but FIGS also donate hundreds of thousands of scrubs to over 35 countries. The countries that FIGS donate to are poorer countries who lack the access to proper uniforms to be able to do their jobs safely.
It’s clear that social entrepreneurship isn’t a fad, and although there might be some specific challenges that social entrepreneurship face, they can be successful ways of doing business.
At Elliot for Water, we follow a social entrepreneurship model. With every search on the Elliot for Water browser extension, we generate money through ads. This allows us to give part of the money to helping communities all over the world gain access to safe and clean drinking water.