We’ve posted this statement before. We’re a social enterprise. But, unless you work in the social sector, or work for Flywheel you probably don’t know what the heck that actually means. Well, read on, my friend.


The term social enterprise can be challenging to define, in large part because the concept has evolved rapidly in recent years and increasingly blurs the lines of the traditional business, government, and non-profit sectors. While there are many different definitions floating around, this is our take (referencing experts).




In short, social enterprises are revenue-generating businesses with a twist.


A social enterprise exists to achieve a social purpose in a financially sustainable way.


Unlike ordinary business entrepreneurs who base their decisions solely on financial returns, social entrepreneurs incorporate the objective of creating social value into their founding business models. Source. 


Social enterprises address a basic unmet need or work to solve a social or environmental problem through a market-driven approach.


Social enterprises always have a double bottom line and reinvest income from sales into the business of improving lives. Source.


Whether operated by a non-profit organization or by a for-profit company, a social enterprise has two goals: to achieve social, cultural, community economic and/or environmental outcomes; and, to earn revenue.


There are a number of different kinds of social enterprises. We (and many other much smarter people) like to group them into these three categories:


The Innovation Model


These are organizations that create social or environmental impact through innovative products and services.


Solar Sister is an example. The company brings clean energy technology to even the most remote communities in rural Africa through a deliberately women-centered direct sales network. Other Social Enterprises that provide innovative products and services to solve a social issue: Kiva, Grameen Bank, Drink Soma, FairPhone, Benetech, Growing Sound & Soles4Souls.


The Employment Model


These are organizations that employ people who have significant barriers to mainstream employment. For example, a local company, Nehemiah Manufacturing hires employees with little to no work history or imperfect criminal record to do manufacturing jobs.  Other Social Enterprises that employ disadvantaged people to break the cycle of poverty: Raven + Lily, Ten Thousand Villages, The Giving Keys, Krochet Kids, Divine Chocolate  


The Give Back Model:


These are organizations that contribute a portion of their profits to organizations that address basic unmet needs. TOMS is a great example of the give back model. For every pair of shoes you purchase, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. Other examples include Sackcloth And Ashes, Skyline Socks, Project 7, Better World Books.


We are CincyStateofBeing are a Model 3 social enterprise. While we realize that the women buying our Insider Program may be able to afford to support and advance their health, that’s not true for every woman in Cincinnati. That’s what we dedicate a portion of every dollar we make from our Insider Program to nonprofits in Cincinnati that support and advance the health of local, underresourced women. There are so many deserving non-profits in our city that we’ll be rotating the beneficiary quarterly. We’re excited to unveil our first non-profit partnership next week.



Do you have questions about social enterprises, or how you can support local social enterprises? Visit Flywheel’s site here. 

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