Strive to make a positive impact with your business.
It's possible to turn a profit, and do good with your business. — Getty Images/PeopleImages

Individuals who start their own business are motivated by many different things. Some people want the freedom of being their own boss or want to pursue their true passion. Others have dreams of making a lot of money and building an empire. However, in the past several years, a new type of entrepreneur has emerged: the social entrepreneur.

Social entrepreneurship is the process by which individuals, startups and entrepreneurs develop and fund solutions that directly address social issues. A social entrepreneur, therefore, is a person who explores business opportunities that have a positive impact on their community, in society or the world.

While sometimes confused with nonprofit organizations, social entrepreneurship is a for-profit endeavor, even though a greater emphasis is placed on creating social or environmental changes. Read on to learn more about five companies who practice social entrepreneurship.

[Read: 4 Invaluable Online Classes For Aspiring Social Entrepreneurs]


While it wasn’t the first company to explore social issues, TOMS is arguably the brand that popularized social entrepreneurship over the past decade. Founded by Blake Mycoskie in 2006 after a trip to Argentina, TOMS began a one-for-one social entrepreneurship model, in which a pair of shoes would be given to children in need for every pair of shoes they sold. Today, TOMS has given over 95 million shoes to people in need, and has expanded their giving model to include access to safe drinking water, eye surgery, bullying prevention and safe births.

Warby Parker

Following TOMS’ success, Warby Parker similarly launched their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program, which has resulted in the company donating over five million pairs of glasses to people in need as of 2019. In 2015, Warby Parker launched their “Pupils Project,” which is a program that works with local government agencies to provide free vision screenings, eye exams and glasses to school children in New York City and Baltimore.

[Read: 4 Must-Watch TED Talks For Any Aspiring Social Entrepreneur]

Love Your Melon is a unique social entrepreneurship example because it initially launched as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2012, but transitioned to a for-profit company in 2016.


Founded in 2013 by Heather Hasson and Trina Spear, FIGS is an online retailer that sells medical apparel and accessories to medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses and physician assistants. FIGS primarily sells scrubs, which they also donate to healthcare professionals all over the world. As of 2019, the company has donated over 500,000 pairs of scrubs in 35 different countries.

Love Your Melon

Love Your Melon is a unique social entrepreneurship example because it initially launched as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2012, but transitioned to a for-profit company in 2016. Love Your Melon was founded by Zach Quinn and Brian Keller with the goal of bringing awareness to childhood cancers and to “improve the quality of life for children battling cancer.” The founders were inspired by TOMS and followed the one-for-one social entrepreneurship model in which one beanie was donated to a child battling cancer for every beanie sold. Today, 50% of the company’s net profits are donated to charitable causes to fight pediatric cancer.


Lush is a cosmetics retailer founded in 1995 that sells soaps, shampoos, creams, shower gels, lotions and other cosmetics from vegetarian and vegan recipes. The company supports animal rights causes in a variety of different ways, such as purchasing products from other companies that do not conduct, fund or commission products that have been tested on animals. All of Lush’s products are tested on human volunteers before they are released to the public. Since 2007, Lush has conducted their “Charity Pot” campaign in which 100% of the profits of Charity Pot products are donated to small organizations that focus on animal welfare, human rights and environmental conservation efforts.

[Read: 7 Steps to Becoming a Successful Social Entrepreneur]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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