Building Business. Enriching Lives.

What is a Social Enterprise?


A business whose primary purpose is the common good. 

Three characteristics distinguish a social enterprise from other types of nonprofits, from “socially responsible” businesses, and from government agencies:

  • It directly addresses an intractable social need and serves the common good, either through its products and services or through the number of disadvantaged people it employs.
  • Its commercial activity is a strong revenue driver, whether a significant earned income stream within a nonprofit’s mixed revenue portfolio, or a for profit enterprise.
  • The common good is its primary purpose, literally “baked into” the organization’s DNA, and trumping all others.

Kevin Lynch, President & CEO, Social Enterprise Alliance