starting a social enterprise


do you know what my favorite thing about running build a little biz is? the amazing women i have met, talked with, brainstormed with, and grown to become friends with (even though i haven’t even met most of them in real life!)

one of those brilliant women is Karen Lee (or ecokaren as i think of her, she probably thinks of me as littlebizkaren. us karens have to stick together!) karen and i were chatting on facebook recently and she was telling me about a new venture she has started with another biz owner. when she told me that Herban Crafts is a social enterprise, i said “what’s a social enterprise?”and walked away with this blog post in my head.

you all know i believe that we ought to have something that we stand for, something that we are passionate about, something we can shout from the rooftops – if we do marketing is way easier and a hell of a lot more fun. karen embodies this passion more than anyone i have ever met, and can teach us a thing or two about having something to stand for.

this is what i have learned:

  • a social enterprise is a for-profit company that sustains their revenue from sales and not from donations like non-profits do.
  • the company makes a profit, but the way they make the profit matters: aiming to create social, cultural, or environmental value.
  • they use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. “There is a profit mission and a social mission, both with at least equal importance.
  • don’t be fooled into thinking that any company promoting its social value is indeed a social enterprise. many businesses are preying on this concept for marketing purposes, sort of like how businesses will slap a ‘green’ or ‘natural’ label on their products.

karen is the founder of the site ecokaren, which offers smart ideas for green living and a handmade life. she is also the co-captain of team eco-etsy. she is one of those business owners genuinely living their brand message! but she wanted to do more; to truly use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems, and that’s where herban crafts comes in.

the product itself is really cool – all in one kits to learn how to make your own organic and earth friendly products (which look absolutely delicious!); but the way in which those kits are made are where this business truly stands out - herban crafts offers a job and social training program for women living in transitional housing who will help prepare and package kits.

the ladies at herban crafts are using crowdfunding as one way to start the company. karen says that crowdfunding is keeping in line with their theory that people doing good things for other people make them feel great.

"We wanted people to feel 'responsible' for making things happen, making them feel good. Social enterprise is similar to that theory."

this is so awesome! (you can see why i had to come and share it with you all!) if you are working on setting up your business, and your own passion and belief aligns well with the premise of social enterprise, perhaps this is a business model worth considering.

you can find out more about social enterprise here:

and please pop over to the herban crafts crowdfunding site. support another little biz, even as you build your own (and get some great bonuses too!) or click share and help karen spread the word about herban crafts. she is truly passionate about making a difference in this world, and i would like to help her if i can!

(note: this is not a sponsored post. i am writing this because i believe herban crafts is a biz worth supporting and i wanted to share what i learned about social enterprise.)