Understanding International Social Enterprise (1): Introduction

This series of 10 blog posts aims to enhance understanding about international social enterprise. When we talk about international social enterprise, we generally refer to non-profit, for-profit or hybrid entities working outside the U.S. Within this broadly defined category, many organizations work in developing countries in the ‘Global South' to serve the four billion people at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) who live on less than USD $2 per day, and therefore, have been called "BoP enterprises."

The first 5 blog posts introduce innovative business approaches that have been adopted in recent years to improve the livelihood of low-income people. Then we will present online resources for finding international social enterprises, as well as various types of organizations which support social businesses across the world. Finally, we'll switch gears to exploring social entrepreneurship in Asia and Africa.

Let's begin with explaining a number of terms and "jargon" that people commonly use in this field.

  1. Mission related investment: The practice of an organization investing in opportunities that align with its program goals and missions.
  2. Socially motivated capital: The money provided by investors to fund businesses or programs that actively achieve social or environmental impact.
  3. Socially Responsible Investment (SRI): An investment strategy integrating social, environmental and/or ethical criteria into the processes of analysis, selection, and choice of investment except for financial criteria. People who make SRI are usually called social venture capitalists.
  4. Triple bottom line: A business oriented solution generates returns of financial performance, social impact, and environmental sustainability for entrepreneurs, their organizations and industries.

You can also browse the following online databases to learn more terms:

  1. Jargon and Terminology by SE100 ( A glossary of terms relevant to social entrepreneurship
  2. The Dictionary of Sustainable Management ( an online dictionary constructed by the Presidio Graduate School defines sustainability and business-related terms

Our next 5 blog posts will walk you through contemporary social innovations. Stay tuned!

Want to know more about international social enterprises? Our Managing Partner, Drew Tulchin, has years of consulting experience in international social enterprises. He will be speaking on the panel "International Social Enterprise: Operational and Implementation Challenges" at this year's Net Impact Conference ( 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM on Friday, October 29. Come hear what Drew and other great speakers have to say about this topic!

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