Social Entrepreneurship Boston - 3 Examples

1. Social Entrepreneurship Boston Company

Georgia's View [Photo by David Salafia] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

A good example of social entrepreneurship, Boston company Common Soles is a small footwear maker inspired by TOMS Shoes, which reinvests a portion of its profits into community infrastructure in regions where its products are made.

Another Boston-based example of social enterprise is a company called Prosperity Candle, which partners with women entrepreneurs in distressed regions of the world and brings them into a unique profit-sharing model which allows them to earn well above a living wage. Through this model, the company is building a network of women entrepreneurs who can support one another, and the ripple effects of this work spread widely to benefit their communities. Media companies that are focused on social enterprise have also become more common, including excellent resources like Ashoka’s Changemakers, Changents, GOOD Magazine, Beyond Profit Magazine and Social Edge.

2. Social Entrepreneurship Boston Meetup

Social Enterprise Network Drop-In July 2011 [Photo by Social Enterprise Network] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) offers a social entrepreneurship Boston meetup group every month. The mission of this group is to create a peer network and support group of entrepreneurs, nonprofit and business professionals, and other thought leaders dedicated to creating effective social impact. The monthly meeting is open to the public, and is held on the first Monday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Tantric Bistro.

This series of monthly meetups has been very successful, offering a great series of presentations and attracting 40 to 60 people to each session. An upcoming session will be dedicated to a series of updates from some of the innovative entrepreneurs who presented in the past. These include Ramesh Raskar & David Schafran from NETRA. NETRA has created an interactive, portable and inexpensive solution for estimating refractive errors in the human eye. This solution is idea for use in far flung rural areas.

3. Social Entrepreneurship Boston Center at Wesleyan

Social entrepreneurship Boston should get another boost from a new center at Wesleyan University which is dedicated to the movement. It will offer Wesleyan students some extra help in starting programs that serve the public good.

The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship will provide workshops, speakers and networking events to help students learn to pursue their ideas, and will also award small grants to undergraduates to fund specific projects. The center is named in honor of the Robert and Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation, which is giving $2 million to fund the center.

It is expected to draw on alumni, parents and others to share their experiences in developing social entrepreneurship ventures. Robert Patricelli, a 1961 Wesleyan grad and the current head of Evolution Benefits and Women’s Health USA, believes that the same entrepreneurial instincts used in business are well-suited to social causes.