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3 Social Entrepreneurship Examples: TOMS Shoes, Give Drinks, and Grameen Bank Case Studies

Lets first define social entrepreneurship: creating sustainable and long term business ventures that focus on solving pressing social needs such as: medical services, poverty, shelter, education or environmental conservation.

From that definition we can then focus on these 3 great social entrepreneurship examples: TOMS Shoes, Give Drinks, and the micro-lending social enterprise Grameen Bank. Each example shows a business that incorporates a social cause within its business model.

TOMS Shoes

Toms ShoesWhen Blake Mycoskie came back to the US from visiting Argentina, he started up TOMS Shoes, a shoe company based around the traditional Argentine alpargata shoe.  While Blake was in Argentina he saw a large number of children without shoes, so he decided to integrate a social aspect when building TOMS business model. Every time someone buys a pair of shoes at TOMS, the company will give a pair of shoes to a child in need.  In the first year they were able to produce 10,000 shoes to give to kids in Argentina. Site:


Give WaterDrink Give Social Entrepreneurship Case Study

There are not many students who come up with college business ideas that include a social aspect in the business model. Ben Lewis, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, built a water bottle company that allows customers to choose what local charity the proceeds will go to when they buy a bottle. The water bottles come in four different colors, each representing a different cause. Green represents environmental causes, pink represents breast cancer, orange stands for muscular disorders, while blue supports children related causes.

‘Give’ has now expanded into energy drinks. Proceeds of the drink will go to sustainable and renewable energy organizations. Site:


Grameen Bank: Changing People’s Lives With $10

One of the best examples of social entrepreneurship is the Grameen Bank. It is a bank based in Bangladesh that provides small loans to help rural and poor people become financially self sufficient. Dr. Muhammad Yunus who created the Grameen Bank, built a social banking system that is based on accountability and mutual trust.

Giving people a line of credit is an effective way of pulling people out of poverty. Take for example a woman who makes baskets. She can only make and sell one at a time because she can only buy new materials once she has sold the basket. Or how about hand crafters who go to loan sharks for money to buy their materials. They are charged high amounts for those loans, or the loan sharks buys the crafts at really low prices, making it difficult for the crafters to provide for their families.

In 2006, Dr. Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Here is a story of a woman who was able to change her whole family’s life with a loan of $10


There are so many different areas that social enterprises can look to build solutions for. TOMS Shoes, Give Drinks, and Grameen Bank are just a few of the social entrepreneurship examples out there. For ideas on businesses to start up or causes to take a part in have a look here: Causes To Get Involved With: Social Entrepreneurship Ideas. Or if you’d like to learn more about social entrepreneurship have a look at our post that fully explains what is social entrepreneurship or see out posts on the different social entrepreneurship courses or social entrepreneurship MBA programs available.

image credit: savrae


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