By Anna Upchurch, JVA Consulting

The idea of blending social aims with profit making is not new.

Arc Thift Stores, which began in 1968, are an early example of social entrepreneurship. Proceeds are distributed to Arc Chapters and the Association for Community Living (ACL). Arc Thrift also provides job training to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Today, arc Thrift operates 22 locations in Colorado and employs more than 1,200 people.

In 1980, Bill Drayton formed ASHOKA, an organization that established a program to support the development of social entrepreneurship (a term that Drayton is believed to have coined).

Match this already emerging trend with the financial crisis of 2007-2008, and as organizations strive for sustainability, the movement toward social enterprise has picked up additional momentum.

Social enterprise has proven it is here to stay, and it is no longer just about job creation or microfinance. Social enterprise has entered new industries such as healthcare and education.

Here are some trends in social enterprise:

  1. Impact Investing. Impact investors invest in efforts that meet social needs and produce a return. It is estimated that the impact investment market could grow to $3 trillion. The resources invested in impact investing are up 20% from 2013 to 2014. One such investment firm is DBL Investors­­—DBL stands for double bottom line. Nancy Pfund is the founder of the venture capital firm, and five out of the 18 companies in her first fund have gone public.
  1. Crowdfunding/Crowdsourcing. Much like social entrepreneurship, crowdfunding has only more recently been termed and highlighted. Technological advances have helped fuel the fire behind this idea. Crowdfunding allows social sector organizations to manage and solicit donations in addition to building awareness for their cause. Check out 13 crowdfunding sites for social entrepreneurs.
  1. Lean Startup Model. Starting a new business can be difficult, and the lean model helps entrepreneurs circumvent the obstacles or challenges business plans may present for a new company.

JVA was a pioneer in applying lean startup principles to social enterprise and presented on the concept at the Social Enterprise Alliance Summit 2014 conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Do you have an idea for a social enterprise or are you interested in learning more? Then join us June 8-11 for our next Social Enterprise BaseCamp. Our upcoming session will help social innovators:

  • Create a lean business model and plan
  • Determine how to conduct industry, competitor and market analyses
  • Develop a stakeholder communication plan
  • Learn how to find customers and how to sell
  • Understand the types of financing available
  • Confidently pitch their idea to investors
  • Create metrics to evaluate success

During our previous sessions, we have worked with social entrepreneurs from all over the country (and Canada) who have come with a wide range of ideas, which we have helped them launch into successful social enterprise businesses. Stay tuned for past participant success stories.