Economic Development and Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise

Social enterprises are businesses that simultaneously have two goals: to create social impact, and to make a profit. Social entrepreneurs apply market-based strategies and business models towards a social mission to serve populations in need through innovation. They are catalysts for change, and bridge the gap between making profits and making an impact. A social entrepreneur is distinct from a social activist because it chooses to view its target market as under-served consumers as opposed to a population in need of aid. Social entrepreneurs: find innovative solutions; have a financially sustainable business model; fulfill a social need in an under-served market, and uplift the poor rather than exploits them. There are a variety of ways that you can enter this field driven by innovation. One can work for a social enterprise whose mission aligns with your passion, or they can join an organization focused on the industry of social entrepreneurship.

When a social entrepreneur starts their own organizatios, they typically fall into one of the following: 1) Nonprofit Model that creates income from their own activities to support the organization. These organizations are usually less dependent on grants and donations but still may receive this type of funding as well. 2) For Profit Model has a social mission as part of their business model. They measure their success by both a financial and social bottom line. Examples include B Corporation. 3) Hybrid structures when the non-profit organization and the for-profit business are linked. They are tied into eachother’s operation. See this article in Forbes for more details on a hybrid structure.

Economic Development

Economic development careers involve working to improve a community’s economic health. Urban and regional planners work with the public to develop plans regarding the use of land, and provide recommendations on the approval or denial of plan proposals. They also keep up to date on zoning and building codes, as well as identifying any needed changes in a community. Urban consultants, who work under the more common title of management analysts, are those who interview people to determine what type of equipment and personnel may be needed for improvements and restructuring. Economic developers work under a wide range of job titles, including economic development specialist, project director, and project coordinator. While these jobs require various degrees of education and experience, all involve working toward the advancement of healthy local economies.

By Robyn Acampora
Robyn Acampora Director of Strategic Initiatives and Public Service Careers Robyn Acampora