Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship

1st Edition

By Teresa Chahine

CRC Press

292 pages | 53 B/W Illus.

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Social entrepreneurship is a revolution occurring around the world today. People from all walks of life are developing and implementing innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions in response to social and environmental challenges. These solutions include products, services, and interventions brought to market by new startups and existing organizations, both for-profit and non-profit.

Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship summarizes the basic steps and tools needed to understand the challenge you are tackling, develop potential solutions, build a business model, measure, and grow your impact. Featuring case studies and interviews with leaders in the field, this comprehensive guide spans multiple sectors, including health, the environment, education, agriculture, commerce, finance, and retail. Designed for readers of all backgrounds, this book will change the way you look at today’s world and what you do about it.


"Everybody is a changemaker! We can teach and learn skills that help us make more effective and lasting changes. This textbook is a valuable guide to get that journey started. What are you waiting for?"

Bill Drayton, Founder and CEO, Ashoka, USA

"Social Business is a special form of social entrepreneurship where the entrepreneur is not interested in making personal profit, the business is devoted entirely to solving human problems. Chahine's book will make it easy to understand the whole spectrum of social entrepreneurship."

Muhammad Yunus, Yunus Centre & Grameen Bank, Bangladesh

"This book stands out as a landmark publication in the social enterprise literature. We had been waiting for it and now it is here! Whether you are a youth grassroots leader or a senior government official, you need the tools and the mindset to slowly but surely make cutting-edge change. This book can help you organize your thoughts and your steps towards action."

HE Dr. Laila Iskandar, Founder, CID Consulting, Egypt, former Minister of State for Environment Affairs and Minister for Urban Renewal and Informal Settlements, Egypt, Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Goldman Environmental Prize winner

"This book is like an encyclopedia of insight on social entrepreneurship. Each person will go through it in a different way depending on their needs…there are many different pathways."

David Bornstein, CEO, Solutions Journalism Network, USA

"A great addition to the field and extremely well constructed."

Susan Davis, former President & CEO, BRAC, USA

"A thoughtful, comprehensive book teeming with case studies and practical guidance to set any aspiring social entrepreneur on the right path. Chahine has adeptly distilled many valuable lessons into a book that inspires and educates with every page. If only it had been around 15 years ago when I began my own journey into the world of social entrepreneurship!"

Willy Foote, Founder and CEO, Root Capital, Cambridge, USA

"Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship is a comprehensive manual for the (potential) beginner social entrepreneurs that guides them step-by-step in developing and implementing a social venture."

Nicolae Cuta, Social Economy Development Foundation, Craiova, Romania

Table of Contents


How This Book Works


Sustainable Development

Why Is Social Entrepreneurship Different from Commercial Entrepreneurship?

How Is Social Entrepreneurship Different from Other Forms of Social Progress?


Institutions Supporting Social Entrepreneurs

Common Characteristics in Social Entrepreneurship

What Are Some of the Basic Skills Needed for Social Entrepreneurship?

How to Use This Book

Learning Tools


Learning Objectives

Summary and Next Steps

Your Assignment for This Chapter

Social Ventures Mentioned in This Chapter

Characterizing Your Challenge

Part One: Introduction

Two Important Viewpoints

Scope of This Chapter

Data Is Power

Approaching Your Topic

Part Two: A Framework for Characterizing Your Challenge

Part Three: How to Select Your Topic

Part Four: Digging Deeper

Analyzing Your Results

Summary and Next Steps

Exercise: Your Challenge

Cocreating with the Community

"Community"—What Does This Mean?

Piecing Together Pieces of the Puzzle

The Social Entrepreneur as a Connector

Catalyzing Change

Who Is Your Starting Team?

Step 1. Assessing Stakeholders for Knowledge Exchange

Step 2. Community-Driven Research

Step 3. Creating Collective Capacity

Checklist: AAAQ

Reflective Practice

Summary and Next Steps

Exercise: Your Homework

Social Ventures Mentioned in This Chapter

Case Study: Ciudad Saludable


Designing Your Solution

Levels of Innovation

Failing Is Part of the Process

Innovation and Design

Generating Ideas, Models, and Solutions

Who Is Your Design Team?

Building Your Solution


Designing a System around Your Product or Service

Beyond Design

Your Theory of Change

Summary and Next Steps

Exercise: Your Deliverables

Social Ventures Mentioned in This Chapter

Case Study: Hippocampus Learning Centers

Market Strategy

The Multidimensional Market

Compass: Vision, Mission, Values

Value Proposition and Unique Selling Point

Market Size: Defining Your Denominator

Social Market Strategy

Tool: Business Canvas


Market Research

Summary and Next Steps

Exercise: Taking Your Solution to Market!

Social Ventures Mentioned in This Chapter

Case Study: Daily Table

Delivering Your Solution

Operations and Distribution

What Is Operations?

Distribution Models

Success Factors across Distribution Models

Strategic Partnerships

Your Biggest Resource: Your Team

Summary and Next Steps

Exercise: How Will You Deliver Your Solution?

Example Social Ventures from This Chapter

Case Study: Aravind

Measuring Impact

Targeting Success

Different Metrics for Different Fields

Before You Start

What to Look for in Your Impact Metrics

Further Considerations

Building Your Logical Framework

How to Choose Your Targets

Setting Up an M&E System

Assessing Your Results with Your Stakeholders

Summary and Next Steps

Exercise: Measuring Success

Social Ventures Discussed in This Chapter

Case Study: Nuru International

Completing the Business Model

Building Your Budget

Revenue Models

Timeline and Phasing

Staying Lean

Business Models

Uncertainty and Risk

Know Your Limitations

Tool: SWOT Table

Summary and Next Steps

Building a Viable Venture

Pitching and Networking

Getting the Support You Need to Make This Happen

Why Do You Need a Business Plan?

How to Write a Business Plan

Presenting and Pitching Your Plan

Pitching Tips

Building Your Network

So You’ve Got Your Business Plan… Now What?

Finding Your Tribe

Summary and Next Steps

Exercise: Putting It Down on Paper

Social Ventures from This Chapter

Funding Your Venture

Creating Your Resource Dashboard

Sources of Funding

Types of Funding

Social Investment Approaches

Finding the Right Approach for You

Summary and Next Steps

Exercise: Funding Your Venture

Social Ventures Mentioned in This Chapter

Building the Organization

Legal Structure

Organizational Health

The Board

Leadership beyond the Founders

Summary and Next Steps

Exercise: Reflections

Social Ventures Mentioned in This Chapter


Communicating Your Venture

What Are the Different Components in Your Communications?

The "Who" and the "Why"

The "What"

The "How"

Evaluate Your Communications

Different Strategies Needed for Different Settings

Different Skills Needed for Different Stages

Tips and Pointers across Audiences, Media, and Messages

Summary and Conclusions

Exercise: Your Communications Strategy

Managing Growth

Part One: Achieving Scale

Part Two: Beyond Scale

Don’t Get Swept Away

Reverse the Tide: Changing the Way Business Is Done

Changing the Field You’re Playing In

Expanding Your Scope of Impact

Seeing the Forest from the Trees

Mechanisms for Expanding beyond Your Venture

Building a Culture of Change

Avoiding a Bubble


Taking the Next Steps Together

Exercise: Fueling Growth

About the Author

Dr. Teresa Chahine is the Social Entrepreneurship Program Leader at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Center for Health and the Global Environment. She teaches social entrepreneurship at Harvard Chan School and Harvard Extension School, and trains social entrepreneurs worldwide. Dr. Chahine is also the Director of Alfanar Lebanon, which she launched in 2012. Alfanar is a venture philanthropy organization supporting social entrepreneurs in Lebanon and Egypt since 2004. To learn more about her work and how you can get involved, visit and Connect with her on Twitter @teresachahine.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control
MEDICAL / Public Health
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Affairs & Administration