"Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry."
― Bill Drayton, Leading Social Entrepreneurs Changing the Worlds

Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise Portal

Examples Terms & Definitions Publications  Organizations & Links Accelerators & Incubators Financing Resource Centre SE Schools & Centres Contact Info & Disclaimer      Social Enterprise Development Dialogue 2014

Social Enterprise Journey:

Through our website, we invite you to join us on our on-going journey of discovery about social enterprise.  This will be opportunity for us to learn together about the role of social enterprise in our communities as well as around the globe.  We will include information on”what is a social enterprise,” a brief history of social enterprise, look at a new hybrid model, and discover Professor Yunus, who was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for social enterprise.

We also provide terms & definitions, examples, resources (videos, PPTs, guides), organizations, publications, accelerators, and financing links which can be accessed through the tabs above. If you have suggestions about resources that would be helpful to share, we would like to learn from you, please email us at innovate@unb.ca.

As we embark on the journey, let’s first look at the Spirit of Social Enterprise in the following video. Although the video was produced for the Dell Social Innovation Challenge for Youth, it demonstrates the spirit and impact of social enterprise.

Once you have viewed this video and would like to discuss your ideas and potential for changing the world, we would like to talk to you. Reach out to us by email at innovate@unb.ca or by telephone  (506) 451-6826.

What is Social Enterprise?

At its essence, a social enterprise is a business or organization, whether not-for-profit or for-profit, which has a strategic mission/purpose to address community, social, environmental challenges, issues and needs in the interest of the common good.

Because there are various legal and business structures under which social enterprises can exist throughout the world, and because socially-focused entrepreneurs are continually innovating to meet community needs, social enterprise models are in a state of global evolution.

Social enterprises in the world can exist as charities, non-profits, for-profits, corporations, NGOs, Cooperatives, Community Interest Corporations, Benefit Corporations, and under other structures. They could also be registered under various certifications such B-Corp  or Social Enterprise Mark.  “No matter the structure, these (social enterprises) seek to deliver value to the marketplace while simultaneously solving community problems.” (Scott Henderson)

Definitions of social enterprise include:

“A social economy enterprise is one that operates like any other business, but its revenues and surpluses are directed towards social and environmental goals.” (BC Centre for Social Enterprise, 2013).

“A social enterprise is an organization that earns revenue by selling a product or service and generates a positive social impact.” (Tim Nash, The Sustainable Economist, Sustainable Investing Workshop)

“Three characteristics distinguish a social enterprise from other types of businesses, nonprofits and government agencies: It directly addresses an intractable social need and serves the common good, either through its products and services or through the number of disadvantaged people it employs. Its commercial activity is a strong revenue driver, whether a significant earned income stream within a nonprofit’s mixed revenue portfolio, or a for profit enterprise. The common good is its primary purpose, literally “baked into” the organization’s DNA, and trumping all others.” (Social Enterprise Alliance)

“…A social enterprise is any organization that operates like a business, produces goods and services for the market, but manages operations and directs surpluses in the pursuit of social, environmental and community or cultural goals.”(Nova Scotia Social Enterprise Working Group)

Video: Professor Yunus-on understanding concept of social business (enterprise). Also please see 2006 Nobel Peace Prize below.



In the past, social enterprise existed within charities, non-profits, and NGOs, which depended largely upon donations and upon funding from the government, provided support and assistance to the community. Some businesses also provided support to social and community causes. As governments became more fiscally challenged, their contributions to socially and community focused organizations began to decrease or disappear altogether.  Philanthropic donations also became negatively impacted by downturns in the global economy.  This presented a serious issue for those striving to address ever-increasing community needs.

At the same time, on the other side of the spectrum, were the for-profit businesses, facing pressure from customers to make a positive contribution towards the community and the environment. Many consumers became focused on the welfare of the community and wanted to purchase goods and services from socially responsible businesses instead of businesses that are focused towards profit maximization at any cost.

The challenge to meet urgent community needs, with depleting resources, has inspired a new conversation and a focus for socially-minded individuals and community-based organizations within the entrepreneurial ecosystem.  As part of this engagement,  opportunities for  dialog, learning,  sharing and collaborating among those in the ecosystem continue to inspire social  innovation.

Examples of “The Dialog”:

Social Enterprise Development Dialog: organized by the Pond-Deshpande Centre, in collaboration with “Changes 360”, was held in March 2013. This event brought together the  aspiring and practicing change agents, including those in non-profit leadership, government, academia, socially responsible corporations and aspiring social entrepreneurs. This was an opportunity to learn and share information about social enterprise with delegates from Canada and the US, and to inspire continuing dialog, collaboration and social innovation within the Atlantic Canada region and with others working in the ecosystem.

Hubli Sandbox Development Dialog:organized by the Deshpande Foundation:The conference gathers together the partners and grantees in the Hubli Sandbox to collectively take stock of our progress and to dialogue about the Sandbox and what we can do to move forward. The conference also serves as a vehicle for outsiders to learn about the challenges within development and the NGOs/nonprofit sector and to allow them to explore alternative forms of engagement through philanthropy and/or activism.

New Generation of Social Enterprise:

The social enterprise landscape is continuing to evolve as new ways to address social, community and environmental needs are developed. The new generation of social enterprise tends to be comprised of structural hybrids which combine the compassion of non-profits with the executional excellence of the private sector.  They include ventures and organizations that are solving social problems with sustainable business models and market–driven organizations that contribute positively to the community, society and environment. These viable hybrid models will enable perpetual economic prosperity with the creation of value through a triple bottom line via the three Ps: People, Planet, Profit.

“We are trying to bring the compassion of the social sector to the for-profit sector. But for-profit companies are very Darwinian in nature, and so they have to have excellence in execution. The idea is to bring that execution excellence into the compassion of the non-profits – and you can create solutions that scale up in size.” (Desh Deshpande, (Globe and Mail, “Fueling a Passion for Innovation”) See Dr. Deshpande speak about  social enterprise  providing school lunches in India.

“My take on it (social enterprise) is that it is the meeting place between commercial and charitable enterprise. It is the part of the world where businesses that behave like charities, and charities that behave like businesses, find common cause.” (Jim Lynch-Techsoup.org)

“Rather than just making money, we need businesses that solve problems. We have enough technology, enough ability, and enough innovative capacity to make that happen.” (Schwab Foundation Blog Article on World Economic Forum 2012)

Nobel Peace 2006 Prize Awarded to Champions of Social Enterprise:

Social Enterprise has been recently recognized internationally for it’s role in economic and social development.  In 2006, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, Bangladesh, “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below” using a micro-credit model.

“Social business can be a significant driver for economic growth through identifying a social need and then meeting the need, creating self-supporting, non-dividend viable enterprises that produce goods and services that make the world a better place. His (Yunus) aspiration is that 1% of the global economy within the next five years should be based on the social business model.” (Social Enterprise Mark Blog UK)



Examples Terms & Definitions Publications  Organizations & Links Accelerators & Incubators Financing Resource Centre SE Schools & CentresContact Info & Disclaimer

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