Social Entrepreneurship – Concept, characteristics and examples

We explain what social entrepreneurship is and what the objectives of these companies are. Classification, characteristics and examples.

Social entrepreneurship
Social enterprises apply market methods to achieve social goals.

What is social entrepreneurship?

A social enterprise is understood to be a type of company different from the typical private for-profit company and also from the public company of the state sector, whose mission is to satisfaction of social, environmental or other needs, of the community in which it operates.

Seen this way, social enterprises apply market methods to achieve social goals. This includes both non-profit organizations and companies with commercial purposes but with a social purpose.

Therefore, instead of maximizing the participation of their shareholders, these types of companies set goals of social impact in their communities or the world, such as financing free activities, supporting micro-enterprises, protecting the weakest sectors, etc.

Social enterprises are often financed by the state or by private investors, but generally aspire to a certain margin of autonomy and freedom that necessarily goes through the self-sustaining. Cooperatives, unions, many NGOs and community organizations are good examples of social entrepreneurship.

Objectives of social entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship
Social enterprises have financial, social and environmental objectives.

The objectives of these types of companies are often referred to as the “triple bottom line”, as they imply success in three integrated areas: financial objectives, social objectives and environmental objectives.

This means that all social entrepreneurship aspires in some way to balance these three aspects of its fundamental mission: economic success, social and environmental responsibility.

The nature of these goals can be quite varied, other than that. From poverty reduction, mass sex education, climate change awareness, etc., everything can be of interest to a venture of this type.

Types of social entrepreneurship

Broadly speaking, social enterprises can be classified into four categories, according to their fundamental objective:

  • Promotion social ventures. Those whose objective is to spread a type of ideas, conducts or behaviors, in favor of a social or ecological cause.
  • Social ventures of specialists. Those made up of professionals with a high degree of specialization in a matter of social interest, who fulfill the role of disseminating specialized knowledge, educating or informing the bulk of the population.
  • Local action social enterprises. Those who take as their goal the solution of specific, specific problems that afflict the society in which they operate.
  • Long-range social ventures. Those that intend to tackle wide-ranging problems, considered to be of international or universal importance.

They could also be classified according to the origin of their financing in:

  • Dependents Those who receive money from some other institution, whether private (commercial) or public (state).
  • Independent. Those who are self-managed or prefer to maintain their autonomy free of monetary rewards.

Characteristics of social entrepreneurship

social entrepreneurship
A social enterprise privileges social action over profit.

The broad characteristics of a social enterprise are:

  • It privileges social action over profit.
  • The resolution or at least reduction of problems of community, social or even global interest is proposed, for the improvement of human life.
  • It pursues its tasks using methods and discourses typical of the commercial or business field, especially advertising.
  • It provides employment in the same way that commercial companies do.

Examples of social entrepreneurship

Some examples of social entrepreneurship are the following:

  • Interruption. This Argentine company founded in 2000 aims to disseminate fair trade and certify agricultural products with ethical and responsible methods. His success was such that in 2003 he opened a branch in New York and in 2012 in Peru.
  • Yaqua. This Peruvian bottled water brand claims to be neither a company nor an NGO, and dedicates 100% of its profits to solving the water availability problems of the small national communities within its reach, in a critical panorama of almost 8 million people without access to drinking water in Peru.
  • Social Factory. Mexican social company created in 2007 that aims to revalue and formalize the textile trade of hundreds of indigenous workers from five Mexican states, promoting equal opportunities, equity and fair trade in a country famous for its abused minorities.
  • Apps for Good. This company, born in London at the beginning of 2010, has as its main objective the independent development of technological applications, but not by its workers, but by the communities themselves: for this they teach courses in educational institutions and promote open source so that people can be the one that provides itself with the technological solutions they need to make their lives better.