University of Southern California


Society Business Lab

What is a Social Enterprise?

In a standard enterprise, profit is the primary goal, and results are measured against prevailing market forces.  A social enterprise is a business venture for which the social mission is as significant, or more significant, than the financial bottom line.  Social enterprises can be non-profit, for-profit, ora mix of the two.  Less important than the funding structure is the notion that social enterprises are mission-driven and offer a product or service that exists for the greater social good.

As you begin to explore social enterprise sector, you will discover many different definitions of “social enterprise.”  These definitions vary according to the needs of the individuals and organizations who use them.  As the field develops, the definition of a “social enterprise” continues to evolve.  For an overview of social enterprise in the context of one particular business, Greyston Bakery, watch this short video produced by GOOD magazine.

What is a Social Entrepreneur?

A social enterprise is a mission-driven business venture (see above for more).  A social entrepreneur is one who initiates a social enterprise.  Often, the field that comprises both of these terms is called “social entrepreneurship.”

How can I get involved with BSEL?

There are many ways to get involved with BSEL, and we love that you are so eager.  If you are a USC student, visit the Get Involved page for a variety of options.  If you are a USC faculty or staff member, a community member, a non-profit, or a business, please contact Lab staff. We can’t wait to meet you!

Does the Society and Business Fellow designation carry a cash award?

The goal of the Fellows program is to provide support and a cohort of like-minded colleagues for MBA students who are seriously pursuing careers in the social sector.   MBA students who take on an a summer internship at a non-profit are eligible to receive $2,500 in subsidy.  Fellows receive priority receipt of these funds. In addition, Fellows may recieve funding to attend a national Net Impact Conference.

Does BSEL hire student workers?

BSEL interns help us plan programs, manage events, and perform research.  If you are hardworking, energetic, interested in social enterprise, and can work well in team settings and independently, we want to meet you!  BSEL hires interns on an as-needed basis; we will post openings on this website.  For more information, please contact Abby Fifer Mandell, Executive Director.