An Interactive Map of Every Social Enterprise Business Model

Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Education, Resources, Strategy


How can products and services contribute to the development of sustainable impact in our communities? What models exist that can drive impact and social change beyond traditional grants and private donations? What role does philanthropy play now that consumers are more aware of the social impact behind their consumption? In the past 10 years, most intensely, we’ve seen so many businesses shift to a mindset in which profit is not the only measurement of success, but also “people” and “planet.” This new criteria for success has informed a new wave of products and services that have giving back at the core of what they do.

Through an in-depth study into the trends and accomplishments amongst hundreds of different social enterprises, we have developed a resource that aims to record (almost) every thriving model of impact. This map has been developed to serve as a tool for businesses interested in finding the right model for their product/service/industry that is both within reach and enables them to create a meaningful impact.

As a social entrepreneur myself, in the earliest stages of designing verynice’s now trending “give-half” business model, I felt incredibly deprived of resources. I remember picking up a copy of “Nonprofits for Dummies” in order to get a feel for how the social sector operated, but when it came to being a for-profit making social impact, I didn’t know where to look to find prime examples of business models. Even to this day, when I arrive at a conference for social entrepreneurs, there is very little talk around business models. When the conversation does come up, it tends to be limited in scope. This limited mindset is actually crippling the social enterprise community’s ability to innovate in a sustainable manner. We’ve all heard of TOMS Shoes, but what other impact-oriented business models are out there?

Emerging social entrepreneurs need to know that there are options. This is why we are proud to have produced the first iteration of a new initiative: Models of Impact. This interactive map highlights over 100 brands, and documents over 45 thriving business models across the product and service-oriented business industries in order to finally reveal the underlying systems that make sustainable impact achievable.

The map itself is situated on a unique cross-axis comprised of 4 variables. The y-axis juxtaposes models that are creating “direct” impact with models that are creating “in-direct” impact. Direct impact refers to ventures who take a leading/immediate role in creating social change either by working on the field or directly with communities in need. In-direct impact refers to ventures who take a supportive role in creating social change either by working with a non-profit or front-line enterprise, or by donating cash/services. The x-axis, on the other hand, juxtaposes models that allow impact to take an “integral” role in driving company culture vs those that are welcoming impact as a “non-integral” component of the business. Integral refers to an impactful business model that is the core of a venture’s practice and key-offerings. Non-integral refers to an impactful business model that does not necessarily define the mission/vision and core competencies of a company.

We encourage you to zoom and drag through the map, and to submit new models and brands that should have a place on the site:

Matthew Manos

Matthew Manos is a social entrepreneur and business-design theorist that is dedicated to disrupting the way the design industry operates. He is the founder of verynice, and provides strategic leadership for the studio. Matthew’s work and ideas have been published in 100+ print and online venues internationally including The Huffington Post, GOOD, Gestalten, HOW, and Wired Magazine. Matthew speaks regularly at events and institutions across the United States including TEDxCMU, Social Enterprise Alliance, UCLA, WKU, and Pepperdine University. He holds a BA in Design Media Arts from UCLA, and an MFA in Media Design from the Art Center College of Design.

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