Are you researching social entrepreneurship? What are you hoping to learn? Do you know what social entrepreneurship is, by definition?
Social Entrepreneurship Reading List
Social entrepreneurship resources are scattered throughout the web. There is misinformation out there as I am sure there is with most topics – regardless of how ambiguous they may seem.
Author Update (January 2nd, 2016): I initially posted this reading list in March 2015. Since then, I have written a number of social entrepreneurship articles that of which I would like to include. This list will give you an understanding of what social entrepreneurship is as well as some specific insights as to how you might get started on the path to building your own social enterprise as well.
- Build a startup that solves a social problem
- Reduce the cost of living
- American business: reimagined
- What is a social entrepreneur
- Warby Parker social entrepreneurs
- Value chain innovation replaces styrofoam
It can be difficult to get started especially when the top social entrepreneurship organizations from around the globe each have their own definition of social entrepreneurship. Rightfully so, as it is a complex topic.
After much research, collecting resources, and trial and error I was able to build a few of a my own social enterprises. My most recent project is Action Horizon Institute. We are growing social entrepreneurs at Action Horizon Institute.
Reading list streamlines social entrepreneurship
Table of Contents
- Sudden Surge in Capital
- What is social entrepreneurship?
- Assets and Activities
- Impact Investing
- Measuring Impact
- Online Courses
- Twitter Hashtags
- Key Players
Sudden surge in capital
To see the government aligning capital for social problem resolution makes it much easier to use my imagination to come up with solutions for the problems which plague this nation. I look at this government funding as validation and permission.
- $100 million in the American Apprenticeship Initiative – Helpful Tip: Toolkit to jumpstart a new apprenticeship program – Helpful Tip: Start a culinary apprenticeship program
- $100 million in the Tech Hire Initiative
- $200 million in skills training to help SNAP recipients get good jobs
- $290 million in the new manufacturing innovation institute competitions
- Nervous? Jobs for the Future built a simple web planning app which asks you a series of questions. Answer the questions to build your idea and business model.
What is social entrepreneurship?
I wrote a short post on how I define social entrepreneurs and the enterprises they build.
The following definitions provide insight into the terms (1) social entrepreneurship, (2) social entrepreneur, and (3) social enterprise.
- Ashoka defines social entrepreneur
- Schwab Foundation answers the question, “What is a social entrepreneur?”
- Skoll World Forum tells us about social entrepreneurship
- Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship answers, “What is social entrepreneurship?“, and also, “Who are social entrepreneurs?” on the same page
- What is a social enterprise? By the Social Enterprise Alliance
- Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) makes a case for definition
- Unreasonable tells us why they don’t like the term social entrepreneurship
These are books which have been valuable in my transformation to the social entrepreneurship way of life. I included links to the books which you can read for free online. Some of the books are important because they stretch your mind to the possibilities of what humans have accomplished. There will be no revolution today. We are too sophisticated to fight a losing battle. Thinking in terms of “us vs them” prevents society from evolving. The future is about working together. These readings should help you begin to frame issues from a solutionary standpoint.
- Common Sense by Thomas Paine was written 250 years ago as a pocket-guide which was read, borrowed, and lent throughout social circles. Two versions of Common Sense by Thomas Paine can be read online for no cost.
- The Prince by Machiavelli was published in the early 1500s and is widely known as the first of its kind. It is a valuable piece of literature to those interested in earning honor and power as a leader. Read The Prince in its entirety.
- The Great Learning by Confucius is a short read about virtue, and a renovation of the people.
- The Art of War written by Machiavelli in the 1500s is comprised of seven books. It is a lot to read, but I wanted to mention it. Full version online can be read here. If you choose between this and The Prince, I recommend The Prince.
- The Art of War was also the title of a book by Sun Tzu. “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” Read the full composition of The Art of War by Sun-Tzu free.
- What to do When it’s Your Turn [And it’s always your turn] is a new book by Seth Godin. Your Turn is a unique publication. First of its kind. It is an inspirational tool to help people believe in themselves and understand the world is changing. I am bringing a stack of Your Turn books to our first local community meetup. Seth includes free books in every order so you can share them. Your Turn is a powerful call-to-action.
- Tribes by Seth Godin has been a favorite of early adopters for the last few years. Tribes is about building and leading a tribe of people around your business or project. There are multiple tribes in existence at one time. Your tribe, my tribe, that person’s tribe, etc. Thus, we all must become leaders of our tribes. The book, Tribes, may not click for you if you are still convinced the future consists of traditional 9a-5p jobs. Read Tribes to be inspired to lead.
- The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets that Change the World written by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan. Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets that Change the World is a must read.
Do not be alarmed if the definitions of social entrepreneurship seem out of reach. There are a few other concepts surrounding the nucleus which will help you shape the ideas naturally.
- Theory of Change is a term I wished I learned from day one. I was told I was wrong or crazy because of the solutionary framework I developed over the last six months. It was easy to believe them because traditional business is quick and easy. Theory of Change is the long, drawn out plan which outlines the solution for systemic change to take place. Learn it. Like…yesterday.
- Three general phases to building a social enterprise: Inspiration. Ideation. Implementation.
- Human Centered Design is about changing the way we view our purpose, and it encourages you to look at society from a high level view. Look at all the components. People. Families. Government. Business. Education. Poverty. If you have a problem, redesign the system to meet the needs of humans suffering.
- Shared Value is about using business to solve social problems.
- Solutions must work for mainstream and extremes
I recently added the Cooperative section. Once I have time I will fill in this section with the other links I have collected. For now, here are a few resources:
- University of Wisconsin has an incredible resource for cooperatives
- There is an event in Princeton, NJ called Cooperative Impact
Assets and Activities
You will create your own valuable assets once you get moving in the right direction. These tools will get you there.
- Raise some funds before your social enterprise is profitable
- Collective impact tools from the Collective Impact Forum
- Human Centered Design Toolkit and definition of Human Centered Design
- How do I define my audience?
- Focus on frameworks and roadmaps and build a project plan
- Root Cause offers the social entrepreneur bible on building project plans
- How to build a pitch for an idea
- Business model canvas will walk you through revenue generation
- What I should prototype
- Rapid prototyping
- Role play
- Card sorting
- SE Toolbelt is a year or two outdated, but still great resources
- Design Kit provides incredibly sophisticated resources. Reimagine and redesign societal systems which are causing your social problem. Built by the folks from IDEO.org and their human-centered design philosophy.
- Pilot is a longer termed test of your project. After prototypes and iterations.
- Funding and how to build a funding strategy
- Harvard social enterprise reading list
Impact investors are specifically interested in invested in social entrepreneurs who are building sustainable business models that tackle social problems. Below is a list of impact investing resources, labs, accelerators, and funds. I am terribly sorry for the untitled links, but it is going to take me a little while to switch them over. Didn’t want you to miss out on the resources in the meantime.
- Capital Impact
- Impact Investing Policy Collaborative
- Impact Engine
- Sustain VC
- Kapor Capital invests in impact companies that are democratizing sectors
- ImpactAssets increases the flow of capital into impact investments
- SiG is fostering a generation of continuous innovation
- SVX connects impact investors with impact funds and impact ventures
- MaRS Centre for Impact Investing is Canadian-based. Take notes so you can bring the concept to America.
- Virgin visionary Richard Branson brings Virgin Unite to join forces with MaRS to establish the Impact Venture Fund. The fund has at least $1 million in seed funding invested by Virgin Unite and the Mindset Foundation. The fund is Canadian-based, but keep watch on this experiment. Branson is going to unleash serious funding on the U.S. very soon.
- Designer Fund is a unique impact investor funding startups cofounded by designers who tackle problems in education, energy, and healthcare.
- Stanford Social Innovation Review has a section devoted to impact investing
- Social Finance US mobilizes capital for impact investments
- Village Capital Accelerator provides impact investments for social enterprises
- Big Path Capital
- Clearly So
- Investors Circle
- SJF Institute
- Imprint Cap
- Encluded Solutions
- Unreasonable Institute
- JumpStart NJ
- Rita Allen Foundation
- Like Minded
- Craigslist Charitable
- Od Network
- Civic Incubator at Points of Light
- Fuse Corps
- Americans for the Arts
- Animating Democracy
- Social Venture Network
- Nonprofit Finance Fund
- F6S Civic Accelerator
- Sensing XPrize
- New Schools
- Hauser Center
- Global Impact Investor Network
- Media Development Investment Fund invests in independent media
- Mission Investors Exchange
- Community First Fund
- SSI article about “how to measure and improve social impact“
- Presentation on “how to measure social impact“
- Social impact assessment
- Environmental impact assessment
- Health impact assessment
- Equality impact assessment
- Social return on investment
Social Entrepreneurship in Universities
- Center for Social Innovation at Stanford Graduate School of Business
- Social Enterprise at Harvard University Business School
- Duke CASE is the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship
- Social Enterprise Accelerator at Duke University
- Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University offers the Skoll Scholarship as part of a competitive social entrepreneurship MBA program
- U-Lab: Leading Profound Innovation for a More Sustainable World
- S-Lab: Laboratory for Sustainable Business
- School for Social Entrepreneurs
- +Acumen is a global community of social change leaders
- LearnU published a great post about social entrepreneurship
- Human Centered Design
- SOCAP is an annual meeting focused on social capital markets
- Data on Purpose at Stanford University
- Summit15 in September 2015
- CGI America in June 2015
- 2015 SEEED Summit in April 2015 at Brown University
Social Enterprise Conference at Harvard [FEB 2015]
- Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus
- Bill Drayton is the founder of Ashoka. Skoll World Forum has Bill Drayton bio and videos. Bill Drayton tweets as well.
- Courtney E. Martin
- Manfred Max Neef is widely known for being a strong influence in Michael Porter’s work.
- Thomas Piketty is the economist known for his theory of solving our economic problems by a progressive tax on the wealthy in our to redistribute wealth among the people
- Michael Porter founded the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at the Harvard Business School, and the institute has given us the Social Progress Index
- Mark Kramer publishes a lot of writing with Michael Porter, and in some research findings Mark Kramer is titled “cofounder” of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness.
- Get Mentor Me is a network for matching up individuals with powerful mentors
I don’t mean to confuse you with this list of foundations so I need to make a quick disclaimer. Foundations are generally known for providing grant opportunities to nonprofits. However, if you look into grant opportunities make sure your pitching, or running, a profitable social business. Otherwise, you will have to spend valuable time from your schedule various times throughout the year securing funding. Another problem with this is foundations tend to assign grant funds for projects to meet specific needs. Your social enterprise may fit their mold on the first year, but when you revisit them the following year they may be seeking completely different projects. If you go the foundation route look at the grant as a precious investment which will get you up and running. Working closely with mentors and financial advisors who have experience with this will increase the likelihood of your success.
- United Nation Foundation and the UN Foundation Twitter
- Taproot Foundation
- Craigslist Foundation
- Rockefeller Foundation and their Twitter profile
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have a call out for global citizens
- Kaplan Fund is in search of the ideal society
- Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship
- Lumina Foundation is a staple in higher education
- Ford Foundation
- MacArthur Foundation is accelerating change and deepening impact
- Knight Foundation
- Digital Trust Foundation
- Arthur Vining Davis Foundation
- National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
- DRK Foundation
- Kinder Morgan
- Digital Government Initiative. I just discovered this initiative. Epic.
- Challenge.gov is where challenges are hosted by people like you. Very cool resource, and great opportunity for those participating in the challenges.
- Federal agencies have a platform to build and host federal websites using WordPress
- Support The Voter by Rock The Vote and also the Presidential Commission on Election Administration
- Voting Technology Project by MIT
- Voter Information Project provides open source tools
- Embed the voter information code in your website
- FedRAMP is the government cloud technology which is the backbone of an emerging digital government.
- GSA is the U.S. General Services Administration and they seem to have their head in the right place.
- Department Labor open sources its data and provides incredibly user-friendly integration options for developers and beginners. Department of Labor is going places. Impressive work DOL. Department of Labor blog is good as well.
- CIO.gov is the government site for the chief information officers of all the federal agencies
- U.S. Department of Education is important to subscribe to so you are aware of the developments of the educational component of society.
- Grants.Gov is another one to subscribe to in order to stay up-to-date with the status of government initiatives.
- The UK has done an exceptional job with their government website. One government website to access all services.
- OpenIDEO is a crowd-sourced knowledge base of resources for social entrepreneurs
- Impact Hub
- Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG)
- Understanding ecosystems role in systems change
- Social Enterprise Ecosystem is the alignment of resources, public spaces, educational literature (which you will find listed throughout this post), inspiration, legal services, mentors, community members, access to capital, business and marketing services, recruitment of new talent, policy reform, and a shared understanding of what is needed combined with a cooperative plan of action.
- The Social Enterprise Census provides the data needed to build the most effective social enterprise ecosystems require great time commitment combined with a complex web of support systems to nurture humans as their personalities evolve and their behaviors change. It is your job to figure out how to make this process as frictionless and user-friendly as possible.
- Social Enterprise Pipeline is a component of the social enterprise ecosystem. Your pipeline is the strong flow of community members who are bubbling with new ideas to improve the way their cities functions. Some initiatives are likely in motion already. Existing impact projects typically do not generate revenue on their own. The founders are likely spending their own money, or attempting to generate donations.
- #impactinvesting is a hashtag for impact investors
- #socent means social entrepreneurs or social entrepreneurship or social enterprises
- #socinv is social investing
- #socentMBA is the new hashtag for the leading education resource on social entrepreneurship
- Ashoka, Skoll, and Schwab
- World Economic Forum is important because they publish good data in their yearly report about global risks
- Social Enterprise Alliance is building an economy on purpose.
- REDF has 15 years of experience in social enterprise
- NetImpact is doing great work with education and social enterprise
- Social Enterprise UK
- Social Investment Business Group SIB
- Access is increasing access to social investments
- Jobs for the Future is taking giant strides for American youth opportunities and higher education reform. Do not be confused by their placement at the bottom of this page.
This social entrepreneurship reading list is not complete. I will continue adding resources in the next few days. If I missed anything important please let me know in the comments or tweet me or send me a message on Facebook.
Eventually, I will split apart the sections into their own reading lists. If you would like to get notifications of updates to these resources enter your email address below.
Do you have any social enterprise resources that are not in this list? I was hoping we could expand the books section a bit. Please send me your thoughts, links, and ideas on how to improve this resource.