In recent years, the terms entrepreneur and social entrepreneur have become more popular. But what is the difference between the two? An entrepreneur is someone who starts a business or organization. A social entrepreneur is someone who uses business skills to solve social problems.


Entrepreneurs are individuals who see an opportunity and exploit it by organizing a business venture to produce value. They are typically motivated by the possibility of financial gain. Social entrepreneurs are individuals who see an opportunity to solve a social problem and exploit it by organizing a business venture to achieve social change. They are typically motivated by the possibility of creating social value. So, social entrepreneurs are a special type of entrepreneur that focuses on making society better in some way.


The Triple bottom line is a business model that measures the financial performance of a company in addition to the social and environmental performance. It was created in the 1990s and has since become popular. The idea is that a company should be able to make money while also satisfying social and environmental goals. When people speak of the triple bottom line, you will often hear mention of profit, people, and the planet.


If you are interested in starting your own social enterprise, you first need to decide on the problem you are trying to ‘solve’ and then build out a model that works best for your business. According to an article by Wolfgang Grassl, there are 9 different social enterprise business models.


  • 1. The entrepreneur support model sells business support services directly to the entrepreneurs in its target population
  • 2. The market intermediary model helps their clients by marketing or selling their clients’ products or services for them
  • 3. The employment model, in which a social enterprise provides its clients with job opportunities and job training
  • 4. The fee-for-service -model where a social enterprise charges the customer directly for the socially beneficial services it provides
  • 5. The low-income client model  where a social enterprise generally offers social services directly (as in the fee-for-service model) while focusing on low-income clients
  • 6. The cooperative model is a fee-based membership organization that provides member services to a group that shares a common need or goal
  • 7. The market linkage model focuses on building relationships and otherwise connecting their clients with markets for their client’s products and services
  • 8. The service subsidization model funds social programs by selling products or services in the marketplace.
  • 9. The organization support model also sells products or services to fund social programs (as the service subsidization model). However, the social programs they fund are part of a separate, parent organization.

Now that you have learned a bit about the differences between entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs, we would love to know what other questions or opinions you have on the topic! Please drop your thoughts in the comments section below! And if you are a college student who is interested in launching a social enterprise, or just want to learn more about the field, then you should think about attending our Ignite Retreat in April. More information about that event can be found here

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