The mission of Weaver’s Social Enterprise Directory is to advance the United States social enterprise ecosystem by educating and equipping people, businesses, and government with knowledge and resources about social enterprises (see definition).
Weaver’s Social Enterprise Directory is a celebration of organizations throughout the United States that are working towards creating positive social changes in our nation. Named after the creator, Dr Rasheda L. Weaver, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Iona College in New York, the directory contains information about how social enterprises strive to address social problems, the goods and services they sell, and their legal structure. There are over 1,000 social enterprises that are currently featured, but it will be continuously updated on an annual basis.
The definition and characteristics of social enterprises in Weaver’s Social Enterprise Directory stems from the results of Dr. Weaver’s empirical study of the social, economic, and legal activities of 115 social enterprises across the United States. This study is the first large scale study of social enterprise activities and characteristics in the nation. Its findings ultimately led to the development of and investment in this national directory.
A social enterprise is an organization that operates under any legal form and that uses commercial business activities to combat one or more social problems (Weaver, 2017). They are social interventions in that they aim to create positive social changes in society (Weaver, 2019).
Typical Characteristics of Social Enterprises in the United States
They have a dual bottom-line consisting of creating social value and economic value.
They are mostly locally embedded organizations, but they are also large-renown companies (because they grow over time).
They seek to address a diversity of social problems. There is no one social issue that social enterprises combat. Social enterprises are often “locally grown” organizations that seek to address issues the social entrepreneurs have faced themselves or have witnessed.
They have a flexible organizational structure in that they can be for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, or a combination of both. Social enterprises may also be established under new “hybrid laws” such as the Benefit Corporation or the Limited Liability Company (L3C).
The benefits and value of Weaver’s Social Enterprise Directory include:
Providing free, online access to information about the goods and services, social activities, and legal structure of social enterprises in the United States.
Offering affordable, fast downloads of data on the geographical, social, legal, and economic activities of over 1,000 social enterprises operating across the United States.
Providing technical and consulting assistance for developing customized directories for use by government and social businesses.
Who This Information Benefits
This information is valuable for the following groups:
Social Entrepreneurs searching for information about social enterprises in specific geographic areas, which may facilitate collaborations, market research, and more.
Proponents of Social Enterprises like policy makers, accelerators, angel/impact investors, networking organizations, or legal firms that may use the directory to aid or inform their work and investments.
Civic Minded Consumers that want to identify social enterprises, so they can engage in socially responsible consumerism.
Job Seekers that aim to identify and work with socially conscious businesses.
Educators that can use the directory for creating student projects, case studies, and for helping students choose internship opportunities.
Researchers that need to locate and contact self-identifying social enterprises for research studies or to even conduct research on the directory itself.
Weaver, R.L. (2019). Social enterprise and the capability approach: Exploring how social enterprises are humanizing business. Journal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10495142.2019.1589630