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How about a social business?

Use this scenario to help young people to gain the basic knowledge on social entrepreneurship.


When to use it:

  • learning about social entrepreneurship, how business can help the community.

Size of the group: 10 to 20 people

Age of the group: over 14 years old


Preparation: 30 minutes

Presentation: 60 minutes


  • flipchart papers
  • markers
  • videoprojector
  • laptop / computer




1. Split the participants in groups of five people, and present them the following problem from the community:

  1. “There are 200 homeless people living in your city, with limited access to shelter, food, clothes, water, etc. During winter time, their situation is worsening, because of the cold weather.”

2. First, ask the groups to make a list with possible solutions they might find to help the homeless people. After 15 minutes, each group presents their solutions they found to help the 200 homeless people.

3. Most of the times, the people will think to services and goods they can provide for free for the homeless people, as a charity does. Now, challenge the groups to develop a business idea through which they could help the homeless people.

4. After 15 minutes, ask the group to present their business ideas and discuss these ideas, debriefing the presentations by explaining the following model adapted from Changing the world: a young’s person guide to social entrepreneurship, by UnLtd for Social Entrepreneurs:

  1. Nonprofit Social Enterprise Business
    Mission Helping a community, group of people, advocate for a specific cause Tackling social problems, improving communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. Selling goods and services in the open market, but reinvesting the profit back into the community.

    Focused on: helping customers, or employees from disadvantaged groups.

    Making money (profit) for the owner/shareholders.
    Money Using traditional fundraising methods from individual donors, companies or funding public or private bodies. Profit made from sale of services / products. Profit made from sale of services or products.

5. Present the following example of social enterprise developed to help homeless people from Detroit – The Empowerment Plan (

  1. “The Empowerment Plan is a Detroit-based nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the homeless community. Our goal is to help build a better life for those that have become trapped in the cycle of homelessness. We mostly hire homeless parents from local shelters to become full time seamstresses so that they can earn a stable income, find secure housing, and gain back their independence for themselves and for their families. The individuals we hire are trained to manufacture a coat that transforms into a sleeping bag at night, and a bag when not in use.  The coats are distributed to homeless people living on the streets at no cost to them through partnerships we have established with outreach organizations in communities around the nation.

    We believe in giving second chances to those who want it, and providing warmth to those who need it.”

Follow-up questions

  • If you have to develop a formula what a social enterprise, how would you write it? After participants answer, you can also give this example: “Interest/Passion + Trying to solve a social problem + making a profit and reinvesting it = social entrepreneurship” (example from Changing the world: a young’s person guide to social entrepreneurship, by UnLtd for Social Entrepreneurs).

Possible variations

For step 1. you can use a different community problem, for which participants should think about solutions.

Other resources:

Changing the world: a young’s person guide to social entrepreneurship, by UnLtd for Social Entrepreneurs

14 TED talks on how the power of social entrepreneurship is helping solve the world’s biggest problems


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