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What is a social enterprise?

A social enterprise is an organization that employs a business model to tackle the world’s social and environmental challenges. There are only three ways that a social cause can garner income: donations, government grants and earned income. This third avenue is at the root of social enterprise.

Social enterprises are able to accomplish this in a wide variety of ways. Some social enterprises provide much-needed services to vulnerable communities—like the Grameen Bank, a microfinance institution for the world’s lowest-income communities, created by social enterprise pioneer Muhammad Yunus. Other social enterprises create a positive impact by creating employment for vulnerable populations and/or selling goods and services to fund charitable activities, like ME to WE does.

Why a social enterprise?

The key benefit of social enterprises is sustainability. In an age of declining government funding, traditional charities are finding it increasingly difficult to find reliable long-term support for projects. Social enterprises like ME to WE are self-sustaining, empowering our partner, WE Charity, with the financial security to ensure long-term impact. By applying innovative business approaches, social enterprises can find solutions to the world’s greatest social and environmental challenges—solutions that would be beyond the capacity of traditional charities. And because they speak the same language, social enterprises have far greater power to build partnerships with the business world, leveraging corporate connections and infrastructure to scale impact even more—as ME to WE does through partnerships with socially conscious companies around the world.

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WEconomy: Our guide to social enterprise and why it’s the future of business