Can start-ups change the world?
Global interest in social entrepreneurship is growing, as investors, corporations, academic institutions and foundations support individuals trying to solve intractable global problems, from abject poverty in the developing world to the ravages of climate change. Whether working in for-profit, nonprofit or hybrid organizations, these entrepreneurs are applying sound business principles and attempting to scale their solutions to reach the greatest number of people. The popularity and even trendiness of social entrepreneurship is attributed to the rise of the Millennial Generation, many of whom want businesses to prioritize social innovation and a concern for people over profit. But social entrepreneurs face a strong chance of failure, and serious challenges remain, from getting adequate funding to sustain growth to maintaining focus on social mission and impact as a venture grows. Among the questions under debate: Does a social enterprise need to be self-sustaining? Should investors and social entrepreneurs be allowed to profit from a social enterprise? Can social enterprises stay true to their mission if they become large and successful?
Bornstein, David, “How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas,” updated ed., Oxford University Press, 2007. A journalist discusses the growth of social entrepreneurship through the story of Ashoka and its founder, Bill Drayton, and recounts case studies of successful social entrepreneurs.
Bornstein, David, and Susan Davis, “Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know,” Oxford University Press, 2010. Journalist Bornstein and social entrepreneur Davis offer a primer on the meaning of social entrepreneurship, its execution and its exemplary leaders.
Kayser, Olivier, and Maria Valeria Budinich, “Scaling Up Business Solutions to Social Problems: A Practical Guide for Social and Corporate Entrepreneurs,” Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. Two activists in the social entrepreneurship movement address the problem of increasing the scale of an organization's work, and they present case studies on effective approaches around the world.
Kiser, Cheryl, Deborah Leipziger and J. Janelle Shubert, “Creating Social Value: A Guide for Leaders and Change Makers,” Greenleaf Publishing, 2014. Focusing on the importance of leadership and creating social change, this book from Babson College faculty includes examples of social innovation from both social entrepreneurs and large corporations.
Lane, Marc J., “The Mission Driven Venture,” Wiley, 2015. A prominent lawyer in the field of social enterprise gives a detailed account of corporate forms and legal issues; he writes primarily for a legal audience, but the information is useful for social entrepreneurs.
MacMillan, Ian C., and James D. Thompson, “The Social Entrepreneur's Playbook: Pressure Test, Plan, Launch, and Scale Your Social Enterprise,” expanded ed., Wharton Business Press, 2013. A guide that grew out of an e-book on social entrepreneurship offers solid advice to help businesses move from uncertainty to manageable risk, without sugar-coating the challenges for social entrepreneurs.
Battilana, Julie, et al., “In Search of the Hybrid Ideal,” Stanford Social Innovation Review, Summer 2012, http://tinyurl.com/
Bornstein, David, “The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur,” Opinionator, The New York Times, Nov. 13, 2012, http://tinyurl.com/
Caligiuri, Paula, “When Unilever Bought Ben & Jerry's: A Story of CEO Adaptability,” Fast Company, Aug. 14, 2012, http://tinyurl.com/
Chen, Jane, “Should Your Business Be Nonprofit or For-Profit?” Harvard Business Review, Feb. 1, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Cooke, T.J., “4 Benefits that B Corps Didn't See Coming,” The Huffington Post, Aug. 17, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Dees, Greg, “The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship,” Kauffman Foundation and Stanford University, revised May 30, 2001, http://tinyurl.com/
Isaac, Mike, and David Gelles, “Kickstarter Focuses Its Mission on Altruism Over Profit,” The New York Times, Sept. 20, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Kell, John, “What does social entrepreneurship mean to actor Adrian Grenier?” Fortune, March 30, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Leimsider, Rich, “5 Bad Reasons to Start a For-Profit Social Enterprise,” July 30, 2014, Harvard Business Review, http://tinyurl.com/
Milway, Katie Smith, “How Social Entrepreneurs Can Have the Most Impact,” Harvard Business Review, May 2, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Schatz, Robin D., “Are You Cool Enough To Eat Bugs?” Forbes.com blog, Aug. 6, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Schatz, Robin D., “How a Social Entrepreneur Overcame His ‘Arrogant Failure’ And Won Kudos From Oprah,” Forbes.com blog, Oct. 18, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“Impact Investment: The Invisible Heart of Markets,” Social Impact Investment Taskforce, Sept. 15, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Saltuk, Yasemin, et al., “Eyes on the Horizon: The Impact Investor Survey,” JPMorgan and Global Impact Investing Network, May 4, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
Gili, Enrique, “B-Corps challenge environment vs. profit paradigm,” Deutsche Welle, June 30, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Lawson, Sarah, “Is B Corps or Fair Trade Certification Right For Your Company?” Fast Company, Oct. 6, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Tabuchi, Hiroko, “Etsy I.P.O. Tests Pledge to Balance Social Mission and Profit,” The New York Times, April 16, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
MacArthur, Kate, “Pipeline Angels fuels women-owned, socially conscious startups,” Chicago Tribune, Nov. 10, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
McBride, Elizabeth, “How Honest Tea conquered the US beverage market,” CNBC, Nov. 11, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Pledger, Marcia, “Successful small businesses with social missions find products, service have to come first,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, Nov. 12, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Baritugo, Kei, “Changing the world, one startup business at a time: Spring Activator's mission expands globally,” The Vancouver Observer, Oct. 22, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Foley, Stephen, “Gates cautious on ‘impact investing,’” Financial Times, Oct. 30, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Jenkin, Matthew, “It's not charity: the rise of social enterprise in Vietnam,” The Guardian, March 31, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Adeniji, Ade, “Millions to Foster Social Entrepreneurship on a California Campus. Will More Follow?” Inside Philanthropy, May 8, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Bing, Chris, “Life and Social Entrepreneurship Inside Georgetown's Halcyon Incubator,” DC Inno, July 27, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Ladika, Susan, “Socially Conscious,” International Educator, March and April 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Ashoka—Innovators for the Public
1700 N. Moore St., Suite 2000, Arlington, VA 22209
Fellowship program that invests in social entrepreneurs; supports education to foster empathy and social change.
155 Lancaster Ave., Wayne, PA 19087
Group established by socially oriented firms to certify B Corporations, provide analytics for benchmarking and lobby for benefit corporation legislation in United States.
Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship
Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, 100 Fuqua Drive, Durham, NC 27708
Research and education center that prepares leaders and organizations to achieve lasting social change.
462 Seventh Ave., 13th Floor, New York, NY 10018
Group that supports social entrepreneurs with three fellowship programs; impact investing; and curriculum and training for young leaders.
Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN)
30 Broad St., New York, NY 10004
International group that represents the impact investment industry.
Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship
91-93 Route de la Capite, CH-1223 Cologny/Geneva, Switzerland
+41 (0) 22 869 1212
Internationally oriented group that highlights and advances models of sustainable social innovation; identifies select social entrepreneurs; and engages in shaping global, regional and industry agendas that improve the state of the world.
250 University Ave., Suite 200, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Foundation that supports social entrepreneurs through fellowship program, including through direct investments; runs Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship in London.
Social Enterprise Alliance
41 Peabody St., Nashville, TN 37210
National membership organization for social enterprises.