Courtesy Citybizlist– There’s a lot of noise these days, in Baltimore and beyond, around the “social entrepreneur” movement. For some it’s an alchemic promise, marrying money and mission to solve intractable societal issues that others failed to solve. The more cynical might see it as a movement that allows the palliative warmth of talking a good game about changing the world while earning a comfortable hybrid and a LEED designed home. Social Enterprise is a confusing movement that’s hard to understand. So I sat down with Ida Cheinman, who has been in Baltimore’s conversation on Social Enterprise for a while. We worked past the labels to gain a better understanding of what makes an organization a Social Enterprise and its leadership a social entrepreneur.

Past the Label. One could debate endlessly (and some do) what makes an organization a “Social Enterprise.” With help from the Social Enterprise Alliance of Maryland (SEA), there’s one common characteristic: these organizations achieve their social or environmental mission by employing entrepreneurial business methods or strategies. The SEA’s definition shows the dichotomy that Ida explored. It’s two different DNAs – one rooted in the mission driven nonprofit world and the other rooted in the profit driven entrepreneurial world.

Brackish Water.  A couple of other qualifiers again from the SEA: first mission, second money:

• As to mission: Social Enterprises addresses societal needs through their products and services or through the disadvantaged they employ. Most of us work for organizations that view themselves as “socially responsible,” but while our organizations might make donations or recycle or support community projects, when the day is done, the profit motive drives us. What distinguishes Social Enterprises is that while they act like entrepreneurs one finds in a profit driven business, they are ultimately mission not profit driven.

• As to money: Social Enterprises use earned revenue strategies to pursue what is called a double bottom line – read the rest at Citybizlist.