What is a social enterprise?
Social enterprises are the perfect combination of purpose and profit. A social enterprise is an organization that employs a business model to tackle the world’s social and environmental challenges. Some social enterprises do that by selling goods and services to fund life-changing charitable activities, like ME to WE does. Other social enterprises have an impact by providing much-needed services to vulnerable communities—like the Grameen Bank, a microfinance institution for the world’s lowest-income communities, created by social enterprise pioneer Muhammad Yunus. With traditional business, profits are divided between the owners and/or shareholders. Social enterprises reinvest profits in the business in order to grow its impact.
Appreciation for the power of social enterprise is growing around the world. The “community interest company” has been formally recognized in UK corporate law since 2005, and social entrepreneurs can now legally register “benefit corporations” in 33 American states.
Social enterprise is a new way of doing business where purpose and profit are not mutually exclusive. Learn more about the new impact economy in the new book by Holly Branson, and Craig and Marc Kielburger: WEconomy. You can read a sample chapter here.
Why a social enterprise?
The key benefit of social enterprises is sustainability. In an age of declining government funding, traditional charities find it increasingly difficult to find reliable long-term support for projects. Social enterprises like ME to WE are self-sustaining, empowering our partner, WE Charity, with the financial security to ensure long-term impact. By applying innovative business approaches, social enterprises can find solutions to the world’s greatest social and environmental challenges—solutions that would be beyond the capacity of traditional charities. And because they speak the same language, social enterprises have far greater power to build partnerships with the business world, leveraging corporate connections and infrastructure to scale impact even more—as ME to WE does through partnerships with socially conscious companies around the world.