Social enterprise (n.): a business that directly addresses a social need either through its products and services or through the people it employs

Have you ever bought Girl Scout Cookies? Donated an old TV to Goodwill? Noshed on some Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream? Or spritzed some Downy Wrinkle Release on your shirt as you’re sprinting out the door? Then you already know a bit about social enterprise: a growing, worldwide movement of businesses that exist to change the world for the better. A social enterprise is a business that addresses social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. This might sound like a charity, but social enterprises are businesses. They make and do things that earn money and make profits like any business.

It is HOW they work and WHAT they do with their profits that are different: working to make a bigger difference, reinvesting the profits they make to do more good. They do this in lots of different ways: creating jobs for people who would otherwise be left out; reinvesting profits in community projects; protecting the environment, providing vital services for people who might not get them otherwise.

It’s this combination of doing business and doing good that makes social enterprise one of the most exciting and fast growing movements in this country and across the world.

To learn more, scroll down to see the answers of commonly asked questions.

What is the difference between a social enterprise and an ethical business?

It is all about the difference of their missions. A social enterprise’s mission is to help the community, and therefore, they try to maximize their amount of social good it created with the money that it has. An ethical business works to make a profit for its stakeholders and attempts to minimize its negative impact on society or the environment in the process.

Where can I find Greater Cincinnati social enterprises?

We have a list of local Cincinnati social enterprises on our Marketplace page. Check it out!

How can I get involved?

If you are interested in joining our mission, check out our Connect page. We have all the supplies needed to show your support and to stay connected.

Where can I get advice on starting up a social enterprise?

Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub is Cincinnati’s social enterprise support system. They offer training on how to design a social enterprise…and how to manage one well once you have it up and running.. Check out their website, flywheelcincinnati.org to learn more and connect with them.