Social Venture – Definition

Cite this article as:"Social Venture – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated April 26, 2019, last accessed November 26, 2020,


Social Venture Definition

A social venture can be described as a formal agreement, a contract or an undertaking signed by an organization and established by a social entrepreneur regarding a business. Since a social entrepreneur seeks to solve social problems or effecting social change, they establish an undertaking with a firm to provide systemic solutions that are driven towards achieving sustainable social objectives.

Hence, a social venture can be better explained as the incorporation of business skills to solve social or societal problems. An organization with a social venture leverages on its business skills in proffering solutions to social problems.

A Little More on What is a Social Venture

Ordinarily, government agencies or organizations are not social ventures despite that they engage in certain practises for the provision of social services and solving societal problems. Examples of social ventures include for-profit and not-for-profit firms, community organizations, sole proprietors, societal forums and others.

According to Elkington and Hartigan, three models are defined for social ventures, these are leveraged nonprofit, hybrid nonprofit, and social business. Social ventures are different from commercial ventures in the sense that the main objective of social ventures is to solve social problems while commercial ventures are for profit. Although, social ventures may generate profit in the process of providing social benefits, that is just a plus and not the focus of social ventures.

Due to the recognition and global acceptance enjoyed by social ventures, many organizations are beginning to incorporate social venture techniques into their operations. Ordinarily, a social venture attracts the populace, people get involved when they hear that an organization is established to look into societal problems and solve them.

This is why many companies are flourishing by looking into social problems and global challenges which have also led many business leaders into innovative decisions. More customers are profits are attracted by companies that incorporate social venture techniques. Also, the way the success of a company is measured has now been shifted from just profits to the impact the company has on the society which is why social venture is on the rise globally.

Available data reveal that millennials are driving change in the workplace and systematically reshaping the global economy. The inundation of millennials in the global phase has also resulted in a significant social change. This influx is also affecting the business world and their innovations are bringing enormous changes in the way business is conducted.

The millennial generation who are also called the younger adults are people who are culturally aware of the environment and also care for social change. This passion is what they have taken into the workplace and this is defining the business sector differently. Also, because of their passion, millennials are more involved in sustainable social products which will spur social change.

There are many examples of social ventures and models of social ventures across the globe. Examples of these companies include One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), Warby Parker, Buy One Give One (BOGO) and TOMS. These are companies whose aim is to provide systemic solutions to achieve a sustainable social objective.

Microloan is also a social venture that offers low-interest loans for startups., Set dollar amount, At least 1% of profits (businesses that donate at least 1% of their profit for environmental causes), and other Product for social benefit ventures are all examples of social ventures that have continued to flourish.

References for Social Venture

Academic Research on Social Ventures

Social entrepreneurship: How intentions to create a social venture are formed, Mair, J., & Noboa, E. (2006). In Social entrepreneurship (pp. 121-135). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Community‐led social venture creation, Haugh, H. (2007). Entrepreneurship theory and practice, 31(2), 161-182.

Toward a theory of social venture franchising, Tracey, P., & Jarvis, O. (2007). Entrepreneurship theory and practice, 31(5), 667-685.

Assessing Mission and Resources for Social Change: An Organizational Identity Perspective on Social Venture Capitalists ‘Decision Criteria, Miller, T. L., & Wesley, C. L. (2010). Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 34(4), 705-733.

Building a marketing curriculum to support courses in social entrepreneurship and social venture competitions, Schlee, R. P., Curren, M. T., & Harich, K. R. (2009). Journal of Marketing Education, 31(1), 5-15.

Ownership, mission and environment: an exploratory analysis into the evolution of a technology social venture, Desa, G., & Kotha, S. (2006). In Social entrepreneurship (pp. 155-179). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Social venture partners: Engaging a new generation of givers, Brainerd, P. (1999). nonprofit and voluntary Sector quarterly, 28(4), 502-507.

Discrete choices, trade‐offs, and advantages: Modeling social venture opportunities and intentions, Krueger Jr, N., Kickul, J., Gundry, L. K., Verma, R., & Wilson, F. (2009).

The stories of social entrepreneurs: Narrative discourse and social venture resource acquisition, Roundy, P. (2014). Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, 16(2), 200-218.

How intentions to create a social venture are formed: a case study, Mair, J., & Noboa, E. (2005).

Who’s behind the screen? Segmenting social venture consumers through social media usage, Chung, T. L. D., Anaza, N. A., Park, J., & Hall-Phillips, A. (2016). Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 28, 288-295.

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