Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business

What is Social Enterprise?

One of the most dynamic and fastest growing areas in entrepreneurship is the relatively new concept of social enterprise. The primary purpose of a social enterprise is to promote the common good. It uses business methods and disciplines to advance social, environmental, and human justice agendas.*  

Although there has been some controversy as to an exact definition of “social enterprise,” we believe that the best definition at this time, and the one used as basis for the Quinlan SEC, is the following:

A social enterprise is “an organization where the core business activity:

  1. Produces a benefit to society through product, labor or process that is;
  2. Beyond the benefit provided to its customers, and
  3. Removal of said benefit would substantially alter or eliminate the business.”

*Both for-profit and nonprofit organizations’ business plans are eligible to enter the competition.*