Social Impact 101: Building Companies That Make a Difference

Joey Hundert — social entrepreneur, start-up consultant and founder of the “Sustainival,” the world’s first green carnival — has been working for a decade and a half to promote ventures that both make money and make the world a better place.

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Wry: We talk about social enterprise, and we talk about social entrepreneurship. But when you start to really dig into them, people can be having really different conversations about what those two components mean together. How do you define this stuff, and what do you see in terms of the students who are working on it?

Hundert: I define social entrepreneurship, or social venture, as a company or venture, nonprofit or otherwise, that has a social impact baked right into the product, or right into the value they seek to offer society. Not like, “Hey, on occasion, with 1% of our profits, we do this thing for helping people out.” To me, that’s too minor. More so, it’s, “Well, every time you buy this, we give the exact same value to another community.” Or, “By virtue of you buying this product, people are getting educated.”

To me, social enterprise is when the [whole operation is imbued with a] social impact — education, helping lift people out of poverty, helping provide access to food or drinking water, helping to level the quality of life around the world. These sorts of things — lifting people out of poverty, creating education, inspiration. That [impact] has to be worked right into the product Twitter . [It can’t be a matter of], “Hey, once a year we go volunteer.” That’s not it. To me, an actual larger percentage of costs of goods sold, or a larger percentage of gross revenues, is put to this purpose. And it’s continually reinvested in.

Source: Knowledge @ Wharton

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