Though the field of social enterprise is still emerging, the idea of using market-based strategies for good has been around for a long time.
Goodwill Industries, for example, started as a small outreach ministry in 1902 and has grown to a $3.25 billion organization. Newman’s Own, founded in 1982 as a for-profit company that donates 100% of its profits to charity, has generated over $300 million in philanthropic funds in the last two decades. Heifer International was founded just after the Spanish Civil War based on the premise that humanitarian aid could be better delivered by engaging poor people in asset building and market-based activities rather than by doling out unsustainable relief rations.
Changemakers have been at it for a long time, yet the practice, methods, and details of social entrepreneurship remain fuzzy and elusive. While nothing beats learning by doing, if you’re considering a career as a social entrepreneur, this Resource of the Week is a good place to start.
This online resource was created by author and sector thought-leader Kim Alter, and is a fantastic foundation upon which to build a practice in social enterprise. It reads like an MBA lecture presentation, and covers everything from definitions and history of social enterprise to blended value business models and strategies for shaping legal and organizational structures that will help you most effectively achieve your mission.
Whether you’re thinking about starting your own social enterprise, re-thinking the strategy or structure of your current initiative, or just wanting to learn more about social entrepreneurship in general, this resource will get you grounded in the emerging (yet historically proven) field of social enterprise.