Some people do business for their profit. Some do it, focusing on the benefits for society. Every person has a different motivation. You can either focus on making a lot of money in your business or shaping your business to benefit the world with social entrepreneurship.

In this article, learn about the types of social entrepreneurs out there and how to become one.

What Is Social Entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurship is doing business for the profit of society or the environment. Social entrepreneurs develop and fund solutions for cultural, social or environmental issues. They take risks and put effort to have a positive impact on these issues.

This type of entrepreneurship has gained popularity in the last few years. Many entrepreneurs started to ask themselves how they can help the world. If you’re curious as to why you should join a social start-up or engage with them, check out this article.

In short, social entrepreneurship involves social work, community development and environmental service. So, working for poverty alleviation or health care are two examples of social entrepreneurship. Environment-friendly products or services are also another aspect.

Sometimes people confuse it with non-profit organisations. The main goal here though is not making a profit, but you can still make money. In fact, it is good for social start-ups and businesses to make a profit so that they can scale their impact further. To get you more acquainted with social entrepreneurship, you can find the types and examples of social entrepreneurship below.

Types of Social Entrepreneurship


This type of social entrepreneur works for the needs of a community in small areas. They are often small organisations or individuals. Despite working for a small community, they have a wide range of services. Some examples are building a community centre, food distribution or microfinancing.

These entrepreneurs work directly with the community members. Therefore, decision-making takes longer, but it brings long-term solutions. Moreover, the results are instantly visible in the community.


Non-profit entrepreneurship is based on reinvesting. These organisations choose to invest their profits in another cause. Their main goal is not to make a profit, but to do good for society. Because they already have the funding, they are more likely to reach their goals.

However, it takes longer to see the results. The effect is on a larger scale, though. Business-savvy people tend to select this type since they want to make a change in their society.


Transformational social entrepreneurship deals with the issues that the government or other businesses can’t. It is similar to having an organisation with skilled people. These people follow the government’s guidelines and work with other organisations.

After a certain time and when they are grown enough, non-profits turn into transformational. It helps them grow even more, yet they have more rules and regulations. Transformational entrepreneurship helps other businesses develop positive changes. Thus, it creates a web of businesses focused on social benefits.


Global social entrepreneurship has the largest scale. These entrepreneurs deal with global issues, and they often work with other organisations. Some examples of the issues are poverty, access to clean water and climate change.

There is, however, one downside. If they failed, their loss would be bigger than the smaller organisations. Don’t worry, though! Because these organisations work with others, they are likely to achieve their goals.

Examples of Social Entrepreneurship

  • Goonj: Founded by Anshu Gupta, this organisation collects old clothes to upcycle and give them away to the poor.
  • Ashoka: The founder Bill Drayton is one of the pioneers in social entrepreneurship. The organisation finds and supports other social entrepreneurs around the world.
  • TOMS: The famous shoe brand donates one pair for every one they sell. The founder Blake Mycoskie raised awareness about poverty and weak health care in other parts of the world.
  • The Anchal Project: This non-profit organisation employs women who want to make their own products. The project enables women to buy, sell or trade so that they can make money.
  • Maui Raw: Founded by Michelle Valentin, the company aims at influencing people to eat healthier. The founder believes in the importance of eating healthy and wants to make it more appealing to everyone. Through her brand, she invents healthy recipes with organic ingredients. Moreover, she uses local products to help Hawaiian farming. 

How to Become a Social Entrepreneur?

In addition to seeing a rise in the number of social start-ups and businesses, there are also a larger number of degree and certificate programs in support of this trend. These are great options for those who want to diversify their entrepreneurial skill set or simply get started in this line of work. Here are a few universities we compiled for you:

Duke University: offers an undergraduate certificate programme in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The classes are gathered around social innovation, leading as a social entrepreneur, and social entrepreneurship in action. The Fuqua School of Business within Duke University offers an MBA programme and the classes involve impact investing and advanced social entrepreneurship. 

Yale University: the Yale School of Management offers the programme on Social Enterprise where non-profits, social enterprise, and social entrepreneurship are discussed. The students are trained to use their business skills and market knowledge to come up with social solutions. 

The University of Oxford: Saïd Business School offers an MBA programme with a focus on international social entrepreneurship, innovation and social entrepreneurship, and design and development. What is different about this university is they offer a 5-year-fully-funded scholarship for those who invested in social innovation. 

Stanford University: students can complete a certificate in Public Management and Social Innovation during their MBA or MS programmes at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. You can choose the industry you want to focus within the social sector, such as environmental sustainability, health, or education. 

These are top choices for degree and certificate programmes. Though, there are many more out there. If you are interested in enrolling in one, you can read more here

What Qualities Are Needed to Be a Social Entrepreneur?

Anyone can find a project and start their social entrepreneurship journey. All you need is to spot a problem in society and work to fix it. Though, you can make a difference among the others with your unique qualities. Ask yourself which ones from below you have.

  • Empathy: How do you find the best solution if you haven’t suffered from the problem yourself? Most social entrepreneurs develop the proper solutions through experiencing the problem. When you have deep empathy, you can focus on the issues and come up with an action plan.
  • Creativity and Innovation: Social entrepreneurs have different approaches to the obstacles. Being creative leads you to find innovative solutions for the issues. If you need to be creative and practical at the same time.
  • Determination: There is always a possibility to fail in business. Social entrepreneurs know that failure is a step towards success. They don’t give up. Instead, they work harder to be better. Thus, determination plays a big role in overcoming challenges.

The Bottom Line

Social entrepreneurship has become a new trend in business world. More and more people turn towards social and global issues. If you want to make a start, pick an issue that concerns you a lot. Then, decide which type suits you the best. Give it some time, and you will see how it fosters your goodwill.

About the author

EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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