Capitalism with a conscienceNo this isn’t a review of the latest Star Trek I have wondered for a while now what a real social enterprise is and how to create one.

I was convinced for a time, from some pretty persuasive voices in my life that you needed to build a social enterprise within the confines of a Non Profit. This model has been and continues to be used by a number of charities across our country. For more on Enterprising NP’s visit

Not that this was a bad idea, I just had another model in mind. I was convinced there was a legit expression of a Social Enterprise that didn’t have an umbilical cord attached to a NP mother.

I wanted to be a social business (enterprise) that had a non profit within it. Many regular large for profits create NP’s within them ~ they call these foundations. The relatively seismic difference for me was…. a) I wanted to create a social enterprise without it being in a NP b) Without waiting for the company to grow old and comfortable I wanted a Charitable NP in it’s DNA.

Why would I want that? Good question! I wanted to do business without the confines of a NP, it sets me up in a sector of enterprise where making money is expected and a framework is in place… then I dream about having a charitable standard right in the center ring. We exist to do more than make money, we have multiple missions … make a positive impact on the environment and society… we want to solve big issues by doing business for a cause. (Capitalism with a conscience.)

So, how do you know if you are a social entrepreneur?

If you are a social entrepreneur, you:

  • are primarily motivated by the social, ethical and/or environmental benefits that your organization will generate;
  • respond to urgent needs and act as a change agent to solve problems;
  • hope to achieve scale for your organization, in terms of impact, if not size; and
  • want create some level of financial sustainability to ensure your organization’s future, but those are likely secondary to the reason why your organization exists.

More information is available here