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5 examples of successful social enterprises


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In a previous post, we discussed social entrepreneurship and its merits. Today, we’re going to look at social entrepreneurs and social enterprises that have been successful in creating social change through commercial initiatives. Through persistence and boundless dedication, these individuals and organizations have proven that there is profit in integrating social patronage with your business goals.

RingCentral hopes that these examples serve to inspire entrepreneurs – new and veteran, young and old – to pursue big ideas that can make the world better.

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5 examples of successful social enterprises


With a name that essentially means “vitality from the sun,” this Egyptian company has certainly lived up to its promise by continuously encouraging social, personal and environmental development. Since SEKEM was founded in 1977 by Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, a pharmacologist, it has:

    • Produced medicinal, herbal, gastronomical and aesthetically focused products that serve the needs of its customers
    • Improved the environment through biodynamic farms
    • Built an educational establishment for children to emphasize creativity and analytical thought
    • Instituted a healthcare center devoted to holistic medicine

2. Amul

Founded in 1946, Amul was established initially as a reaction to unfair milk trade practices in India, inspiring local and marginalized farmers to form cooperatives independent from trade cartels. With the notable help of Tribhuvandas Patel and Verghese Kurien, the Amul cooperative model became so successful that it was eventually replicated all over India in 1965. Amul has since:

    • Produced excellent value for money food products for customers
    • Created a lucrative source of income for local dairy farmers in India

3. Fifteen

Founded by English celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in 2002, Fifteen started out as an ambitious effort to offer disadvantaged youths (aged 18-24) a means of creating better futures for themselves through the art of good food. The restaurant initiative was named for the 15 young people who originally entered apprenticeships under this program. Since the first establishment opened, Fifteen has:

    • Delivered delicious Italian food to patrons and opened two other restaurants in Amsterdam and Cornwall
    • Trained 220 young locals in the art of cooking and hospitality and inspired many of its graduates to pursue successful careers in the restaurant business
    • Reinforced the value of local produce and cooking techniques

4. Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company

Named for Ladakh, one of the most beautiful and fascinating places in northern India, the Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company is a travel agency made up of female trekkers and travel guides. It was founded by accomplished Ladakhi trekking guide Thinlas Chorol in 2009, defying trekking industry conventions that heavily favor Ladakhi males. Over the last few years, the Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company has:

    • Organized educational and ecologically friendly tours, treks and homestays for travelers and tourists
    • Inspired Ladakhi women to prove that they are equally talented in serving as tour guides in their hometown
    • Encouraged local economic growth by allowing women to find work within Ladakh

5. Jaipur Rugs

Starting out in Jaipur, India and currently operating from Atlanta, Georgia, Jaipur Rugs is a primarily focused on producing high-quality and socially responsible floor coverings. Founded by NK Chaudhary in 1978, this company elevated the art of knotted carpet weaving by nurturing it at the grassroots level and empowering local artisans by directly connecting them to the global market. Thus far, Jaipur Rugs has:

    • Produced breathtaking, well-crafted handmade rugs for discerning customers
    • Continued to connect gifted rug makers to consumers
    • Sponsored health, literacy, vocational, legal, financial and entrepreneurial initiatives to inspire progress in communities where their artisans work and live

Starting a successful social enterprise: Where to begin

Social entrepreneurship can only make a lasting impact if it’s started with the best of intentions. If this feels like the right path for you, be sure to consult your heart as much as your spreadsheets and business projections.

To learn how to get your own social enterprise up and running, read our blog on social entrepreneurship essentials.

Originally published Feb 07, 2012, updated May 05, 2022

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