So you are interested in engaging in social entrepreneurship? That is just great. Social entrepreneurship is when a business is used as a means of helping to solve social problems, environmental problems, or sometimes other types of problems. If you are a social entrepreneur or aspiring business owner, starting a benefit corporation (B corp), or turning your existing business into one, may be right for you.
To start a benefit corporation, you first need to start a business or have a pre-existing one; then you pay to have your company certified as a benefit corporation. In order for your company to be certified as a B corp, it first needs to meet certain criteria. This is the process for a B Corp in Oregon, each state may be a little different. Some states do not even allow for the official creation of B corps at all at the present time.
Benefit corporations are a relatively new type of corporate structure. The legal infrastructure for them is still being developed and created. Not all states allow for their official creation. However, if you are running a private business, you can potentially operate as a social entrepreneurial venture anyway.
If you are attempting to bootstrap a business (start a business with as little money as possible), becoming a certified B corp may not be financially realistic until significant profits are being generated or additional funding can be acquired. There are many types of problems which can use a solution, and there are many ways to engage in social entrepreneurship. Problems that social entrepreneurship can address can include topics like poverty, lack of clean water, social justice, lacking sufficient clothing or shoes, environmental problems and more.
For example, a benefit corporation can be a grocery store that focuses on providing sustainable and environmentally friendly products at reasonable prices while treating both customers and employees fairly and ethically. New Seasons, a chain of groceries stores, is an example of this business model. At New Seasons, they claim to be the first grocery business on Earth to be certified as a benefit corporation.
There are many problems on Earth that can benefit from potential solution. Benefit corporations and social entrepreneurship are aspects of businesses that can incentivize and motivate individuals to work towards solving various sorts of social and environmental problems while also earning a potentially significant profit for investors and other financial stakeholders.
Benefit corporations have a tremendous potential to do a lot of good in the world. Hopefully a greater percentage of businesses will operate in ways related to social entrepreneurship. Hopefully all states and nations will adopt the legal framework of benefit corporations in the future.