The drive to do good with business and generate social impact is a common theme in organizations across sectors today. A category of business models that have emerged in response to public, governmental, and private pressure for corporate social responsibility are social enterprises. Social enterprises are loosely defined as a business with social objectives, and many different types of organizations fit into this category. They differ from traditional business in that their primary objective is not to increase profit, although it may still be one of their objectives. The social enterprise sector and social entrepreneurship has expanded with increasing popularity, and is a diverse sector with many different organizational structures, specific, evolving concepts and terminology, and varied goals.

It may seem daunting for new social entrepreneurs and enterprises to get going and manage effectively, but there are many resources available for emerging and established actors to learn from others’ experiences and stay abreast of fresh developments. Some resources focus on providing materials for organization management, including defining long term goals and strategy, building impact metrics, and creating business models. Others focus on education, and providing information and tools for understanding trends and concepts in the social sector. Some focus on networking and ecosystem building. These are some of our favorite resources for a variety of focuses.

Acumen Academy is a great resource for social entrepreneurs. The academy offers a wide variety of courses that span from covering the fundamentals such as business models and nonprofit basics, classes for improving existing organizations such as data management and branding, and classes that tackle ideological questions such as opposing hate and bias. They offer team classes that average between 4-6 weeks where one can invite members of your organization or team to participate with you, and these classes are free. They also offer master classes for a fee, which are video based courses that have open ended timelines. Finally, they offer the Accelerato program for varying fees, which is an intensive, application based program where one works with other changemakers in the social sector on “multi week sprints” in order to make fast progress.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is a sister organization of the World Economic Forum, is a platform that supports models and initiatives of social innovation and progress. They provide the Social Innovation Award to the top social entrepreneurs on a yearly basis, and they choose individuals for their social entrepreneurs category, their corporate social intrapreneurs category, their public social intrapreneurs category, and their collective social innovation award. They have presented over 400 awards, and built a network for these individuals to connect with one another and share expertise and ideas with one another. In addition to the awards, they also have a large amount of learning resources for other social entrepreneurs. They produce research based reports and articles so that entrepreneurs globally can learn from the collective experience of others in the sector.

The Social Venture Network, now known as the Social Venture Circle in partnership with the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), is a diverse network of actors in the social sector who work collaboratively towards building regenerative economies. The network helps to mobilize capital, communication, and learning for all involved so that these impact driven organizations can thrive and scale collaboratively. They offer a membership program that involves an applicatication, and connects members through conferences, working groups, learning programs, and gives them access to research, data, and webinars.

The Stanford Social Entrepreneurship Hub is an initiative from Stanford University that provides free resources and tools for entrepreneurs to grow and scale their impact. They have a variety of planning tools that cover the fundamentals of organization growth, such as creating a strategy for social change, impact business models, impact compass, and more. These planning tools contain a form, a workbook, or other interactive features that generate a purposeful strategy that can be downloaded once completed. They also have an Impact Lexicon, which is a dictionary of terms used in the social innovation field. Finally, they have created a Path to Launch, which helps entrepreneurs identify where they are in their journey to launch their organization.

While the social enterprise sector is nuanced and ever changing, there are a wide range of resources available to entrepreneurs for every stage of their endeavors. We hope that this article was helpful to all seeking to learn more about the sector; stay tuned for future articles with more resources.

POSTED BY creative | Mar, 23, 2022 |

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