Nashville's Social Enterprise Environment


What's a social enterprise?

There are lots of ways to answer that question! For the purposes of this site, we're drawing from the definition offered by the Social Enterprise Alliance:

"Social enterprises are businesses whose primary purpose is the common good. They use the methods and disciplines of business and the power of the marketplace to advance their social, environmental and human justice agendas Three characteristics distinguish a social enterprise from other types of businesses, nonprofits and government agencies:

* It directly addresses an intractable social need and serves the common good, either through its products and services or through the number of disadvantaged people it employs.

* Its commercial activity is a strong revenue driver, whether a significant earned income stream within a nonprofit’s mixed revenue portfolio, or a for profit enterprise.

* The common good is its primary purpose, literally “baked into” the organization’s DNA, and trumping all others."


Social enterprises can for for-profit or non-profit.

What do social enterprises need?

Steady sources of informed: Increased flows of capital through: Ways to get smarter, faster by:
Social enterprises Donors, investors, consumers Professional service providers Government agencies & offices Media A variety of giving and lending services Capital-flow-friendly corporate and fiscal policy Creating on + offline places to learn together Leveraging the power of networks

Source: Christine Egger for

How do we create the conditions that generate these resources?

Support social enterprises through:

  • Incubators
  • Accelerators
  • Mentoring
  • Capital
  • Networking

Inform donors, investors, and consumers through education partnerships with:

  • the Center for Nonprofit Management
  • the Entrepreneur Center
  • Pathway Lending and other CDFI's
  • Foundations (including the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee)
  • Localist movement-builders like BALLE (

Support #socent-friendly legislation like:

  • Invest Tennessee Exemption (crowdfunded equity)
  • B Corporation
  • L3C

Notes from #socent brainstorming session 11/8/14




Source: Providence RI


Build the pipeline of effective social entrepreneurs

  • Academic courses / University programs

    • Lipscomb

    • Belmont

    • etc

  • Conferences/Marketing

  • Contests

  • Fellowships/Jobs

  • Leadership Development Conferences, etc.

  • Youth Programs

Ecosystem Builders

  • ie SEA, Skoll

Expand the Market

  • Certification

  • Marketplaces

  • Public relations

Increase Business Acumen

  • Accelerators

  • Business Service Providers

  • Incubators

  • Mentoring

  • Shared space models

Providing Capital

  • Equity

  • Fiscal sponsorships

  • Philanthropy

  • much more to add

Societal Support

  • Media

  • Metrics

  • Research