5 Reasons Why Social Entrepreneurship Is The New Business Model

By Mei Mei Fox

Ido Leffler had  tremendous success with one of his first businesses, the natural beauty brand Yes To (Carrots, Cucumbers, etc). When thinking about what to do next, he and his business partner Lance Kalish decided to build their company on three key pillars: working with incredible people, making great products, and benefiting an impactful cause.

Leffler created Yoobi to make school supplies fun again and solve a big problem along the way: Teachers in the U.S. spend an average of $500 out of their own pockets every year on school supplies, and millions of kids don’t have the tools they need to realize their potential in the classroom. For every Yoobi item sold, the company donates supplies such as colored pencils, staplers, and notebooks to schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Ido Leffler handing out Yoobi school supplies. (Photo by Kendal Lovejoy)

Ido Leffler handing out Yoobi school supplies. (Photo by Kendal Lovejoy)

Why found a social enterprise? “I think the biggest question once you’ve reached success is one of motivation,” Leffler said. “What keeps you going? For us, it was this idea that we didn’t want to just be ‘widget guys.’ We wanted to make a real and lasting impact on people’s lives. It’s that simple. At the end of the day, giving back in the way that we are is much more rewarding than any business success I can think of.

It brings you lasting happiness.

Corporate360 is a multi-million dollar outbound marketing data software start-up that founder Varun Chandran created without external funding. The company also runs anNGOin Chandran’s hometown of Padam, in Kerala, India.

The social enterprise’s main programs include improving sanitation, drinking water, and housing for the villagers. The company has gifted a school bus and an ambulance to the local government. Every academic year, the Corporate360 team distributes school kits consisting of bags, books, umbrellas, and lunch boxes to the local students. In addition, through its SmartWorker software, Corporate360 hires women, youth and physically challenged individuals from low-income families, training them to perform simple digital data tasks and connecting them to a life-changing source of income.

Varun Chandran finds happiness giving back to his hometown. (Courtesy of Varun Chandran)

Varun Chandran finds happiness giving back to his hometown. (Courtesy of Varun Chandran)

Chandran himself grew up in Padam extremely poor, the son of a farmer. This is a big reason why, for him, the definition of success includes making a difference in other people’s lives. “I have discovered a larger purpose,” Chandran said. “My biggest happiness so far in life is being able to go back to the village where I was born and ‘adopt’ it. When I first made money, I traveled to 32 different countries and bought everything that I had ever wanted, but I realized that I still wasn’t happy. I found real, lasting happiness through my social impact work. At the same time, it makes me feel more responsible for working hard to build the business so that I can contribute even more. It’s a win-win situation, and I enjoy it to the fullest.”

It helps you help others discover their life purpose.

NEWaukee, based in Milwaukee, is the only social architecture firm in the country that operates on a social enterprise business model. “We believe that the place in which a company is located and how invested that company is in the local community have a direct correlation to the ease with which it sources the talent needed to make its products and the customers needed to buy its products,” explained NEWaukee co-founder and CEO Angela Damiani.

Angela Damiani enjoying her hometown and primary cause, Milwaukee. (Photo by Jason Klein)

Angela Damiani enjoying her hometown and primary cause, the city of Milwaukee. (Photo by Jason Klein)

The social enterprise model allows NEWaukee to offer hundreds of events and programs annually to the public for free, build public parks and works of public art without the need for taxpayer or philanthropic investment, and support twenty-four different non-profit organizations at no charge.“We’ve developed a mechanism for corporations to put thehumanback into human resources while simultaneously making the Milwaukee community a more equitable, accessible and vibrant place for all to enjoy,” Damiani said.

On a personal level, Damiani feels honored to “live and breathe this work every day.” She said, “Not only have I found my own passion through creating this business model, but also I am delighted to help others find their own life purpose through our projects and programs. We are serving our clients while shedding light on their potential to be their best and brightest.”

It is what today’s consumers want.

WE’VE provides hand-selected, skilled artisans from Cambodia, India and the U.S. with a global online marketplace for their goods. All the eco-friendly products are sustainably created. In addition, WE’VE collaborates with the artists to support their families and local communities.


Eve Blossom believes today’s consumers want products with a purpose. (Photo by Rick Dean)

WE’VE Founder and CEO Eve Blossom said, “As consumers, we have redefined ourselves as citizens of the world. More and more people are interested in products and services that align with their values. We are considering our purchases in a holistic sense, examining the price of products not only in terms of the amount paid at the register, but also the total cost of production along the way, including pesticides and poisons used, sweatshops employed, and other, broader human consequences. A whole industry has grown around this revelation, as businesses are being built on a smarter framework of ecological, economic and social sustainability. The most fulfilling goods and services are those that connect us in relevant ways to other people and help us live in concert with our values .”