Social Enterprise Examples: 10 Must-Know Inspirationals

Discover 10 amazing social enterprise examples that are making a difference. Be inspired by creative solutions that bring social change.

Years ago, I vividly recall sitting at a crossroads in my career with its elegant offices and generous benefits. 

The business world had turned out to be a golden cage that robbed my sense of direction. 

Though I had always firmly believed in the ability of business to do good, I had trouble seeing how to combine profit with purpose. 

My viewpoint changed only after I happened to show up for a presentation on social entrepreneurs. 

There I came across outstanding individuals who had developed successful companies around environmental preservation, social justice promotion, and empowerment of local communities. 

That event changed my mindset. 

I jumped right into the field of social entrepreneurship, advised several successful start-ups, and even led a couple of my own projects. 

These encounters have not only seen but also actively engaged me in the great influence social entrepreneurs may bring about for our planet. 

From this basis, I present ten outstanding social entrepreneurs that epitomize the core of doing well while doing good. 

Every narrative is evidence of our capacity to influence good change with creative, environmentally friendly business models. 

Without further ado, let’s begin.

What is a Social Enterprise?

Photo: Canva

Characteristics of Social Enterprises

  • Driven by missions – The main objective is either social or environmental impact.
  • Generates income through goods or services – Rather than depending just on grants or contributions, so promoting financial sustainability.
  • Profit reinvestment – The process of reinvesting profits into the objective of the company.

10 Examples of Social Enterprises

1. TOMS Shoes

I recall a chat with a friend from a poor Kenyan town. She worked there. She told how kids there would eagerly await the delivery of fresh TOMS shoes, the sight of those basic canvas shoes inspiring hope and happiness.

Overview

Among the most well-known social entrepreneurs today is TOMS Shoes. Blake Mycoskie started TOMS in 2006 using a “One for One” approach—that for every pair of shoes sold, a new pair is given to a child in need.

Impact

TOMS has given children across 70 nations over 100 million pairs of shoes as of right now. They have now extended their approach to include eyewear, therefore offering people in need vision treatment.

2. Warby Parker

2015 saw my first purchase of Warby Parker glasses. Beyond the chic frames, I was amazed how my purchase helped someone’s vision halfway around the globe to be improved. It helped me to feel more a part of a worldwide society.

Overview

Inspired by the exorbitant expense of eyeglasses, Warby Parker was started in 2010 with the goal of offering reasonably priced spectacles while tackling worldwide impaired vision problems. Every pair sold finds a pair for someone in need.

Impact

Through their relationships with organizations like VisionSpring, Warby Parker has provided over 8 million pairs of spectacles to individuals in need.

3. Grameen Bank

I remember reading about a woman named Ayesha from a small chicken farm started by a microloan from Grameen Bank from a rural Bangladeshi hamlet. Her triumph changed not just her personal life but also that of her entire neighborhood.

Overview

Founded by Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh, Grameen Bank offers poor people microloans free from collateral. This paradigm helps people—especially women—to launch small companies and pull themselves out of poverty.

Impact

Over 9 million people have borrowed money from Grameen Bank, the most of which are women. The very high payback rate highlights the durability of this approach.

4. Ben & Jerry’s

I first heard about their fair trade policies and dairy farm sustainability initiatives during a Vermont manufacturing tour. Seeing a brand that people adore actively pursuing social responsibility was eye-opening.

Overview

Popular ice cream firm Ben & Jerry’s is well-known for its social concern dedication. Their company helps social justice and environmental sustainability by means of commerce.

Impact

Using their foundation, the corporation has sponsored several social causes, lowered greenhouse gas emissions, and instituted fair trade policies.

5. The Big Issue

I have spotted merchants offering The Big Issue quite a bit when strolling around London. Thanks to his efforts with the magazine, I started a discussion with a vendor called John who related his path from homelessness to stability.

Overview

The Big Issue is a street newspaper meant to give homeless individuals chances to make a respectable income. Copies of the paper are purchased by vendors who profitably sell them, therefore enabling people to reconstruct their life.

Impact

The Big Issue has enabled more than 100,000 vendors to find stability and make a life over the last thirty years.

6. Patagonia

I once went to a Patagonia event aiming at cutting plastic waste. The obvious enthusiasm and dedication of the business and the participants strengthened my conviction about the influence of business activism.

Overview

One outdoor apparel company well-known for its environmental responsibility is Patagonia. They encourage sustainable business practices and environmental causes from their platform.

Impact

Patagonia aggressively advocates to preserve public lands and fight climate change and donates 1% of their revenues to environmental groups.

7. BioLite

I cooked using a BioLite stove on a camping trip. Its efficiency and the fact it also produced power really amazed me. Learning it was especially important since families in off-grid areas would profit from it similarly.

Overview

For off-grid populations, BioLite designs and makes cutting-edge energy solutions including solar lighting and cookstoves. Their goal is to offer environmentally friendly energy sources that enhance health and lower influence on the surroundings.

Impact

By offering renewable energy solutions that lower carbon emissions and health hazards related with indoor air pollution, BioLite has affected over a million individuals in underdeveloped nations.

8. Greyston Bakery

On a visit to New York, I stopped by Greyston Bakery. It was quite poignant to meet staff members who had turned their life around with such a diverse recruiting policy.

Overview

Greyston Bakery uses an open hiring approach, offering job prospects free from the necessity for resumes or interviews. This strategy enables underprivileged people to restore their life and get consistent jobs.

Impact

Greyston Bakery, which is based in Yonkers, New York, hires more than one hundred people who might otherwise find employment difficult. Ben & Jerry’s ice creams also feature their brownies, which create a great synergy between two businesses with social conscience.

9. Café Direct

Having a cup of Café Direct coffee at a friend’s house, I became intrigued to learn about their direct trade approach and the success stories from farming areas they assist.

Overview

Working directly with smallholder growers, Café Direct, a UK-based coffee firm guarantees fair trade policies and community development. A part of their earnings are reinvested into the communities of the farmers.

Impact

By paying Fairtrade premiums to coffee, tea, and cocoa growers over £50 million, Café Direct has greatly enhanced the infrastructure and way of life in local communities.

10. Aravind Eye Care System

Once on research, a colleague visited Aravind. Deeply motivated by the organization’s compassion and efficiency, he told tales of patients whose modest treatment helped them to see again.

Overview

Based in India, Aravind Eye Care System seeks to use reasonably priced eye treatment to eradicate avoidable blindness. Patients can pay according to their capacity according to a tiered pricing structure they run.

Impact

Aravind has seen more than 60 million patients and carried out over 6 million operations since its founding, giving people in need low-cost or free eye treatment.

Wrap-Up

Social entrepreneurs show that business may in fact be a positive tool. From meeting fundamental needs to empowering underprivileged areas, these companies provide a paradigm of how creative business ideas may handle some of society’s most urgent problems. They serve as a reminder that, given the correct direction, we can design a society in which profit and purpose live together.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1) What is an example of a social enterprise?

TOMS Shoes is one instance of a social enterprise since it distributes a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold.

2) What companies are a social enterprise?

Social entrepreneurs include businesses like Warby Parker, Greyston Bakery, and Patagonia because of their dedication to environmental and social goals.

3) What is considered a social enterprise?

A social enterprise is a company that puts environmental or social objectives first alongside financial viability and returns earnings back into the cause of business.

4) What is social entrepreneurship and examples?

Societal entrepreneurship is starting companies meant to address societal issues. Two examples are Aravind Eye Care’s reasonably priced vision care and Grameen Bank’s microfinance projects.

5) Is an LLC a social enterprise?

If an LLC runs with a main social or environmental goal and reinvested earnings into reaching that goal, it might be considered as a social enterprise.

Additional Resources: Social Enterprise Business Models

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