Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship is most often defined as the use of the techniques of start-up companies and traditional for-profit entrepreneurs to develop, fund and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues.  A wide range of startup ventures claim to be social entrepreneurship ventures, and, in fact, there is no strong consensus about the definition of social entrepreneurship.

Social entrepreneurs can be either non-profits or hybrids that blend for-profit goals with generating a positive "return to society". One common feature of all Social entrepreneurship ventures is that they place the achievement of their social impact ahead of making profits, though to be successful, social entrepreneurship ventures must also be financially sustainable.

Social entrepreneurship typically attempts to further broad social, cultural, and environmental goals often associated with the voluntary sector in areas such as poverty alleviation, health care and community development. They operate most successfully by brining innovative approaches to domains where government, non-governmental organizations and big philanthropy have not been successful.

GW, with its location in the nation’s capital, its international student body and its strength in policy and international affairs, supports a rich array of programs for social entrepreneurship.


Social Entrepreneurship Mentors-in-Residence

C'pher Gresham
National Director of Expansion
Email: [email protected]

Bio | Reserve Office Hours

Tuesdays, 9:30AM - 11:30AM

New Venture Competition - Social Entrepreneurship Track

The GW New Venture Competition is in its ninth year. The Competition provides a unique opportunity for members of the GW community - students, faculty, staff, and alumni - to compete for substantial cash and in-kind prizes, network with experienced entrepreneurs, receive mentorship, attend workshops and gain access to additional resources.

Ventures compete in one of three tracks:
  • New Ventures are standard commercial ventures, and most submissions will compete in this track.
  • Technology Ventures are those that have a new proprietary technology, discovery or invention at its core. Technology Ventures will have some sort of intellectual property and generally have evidence of the feasibility of that core technology.
  • Social Ventures generally have a transformative solution to a pressing need or social problem, and this social mission takes priority over its financial mission.

Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service

The Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service aims to integrate civic engagement into George Washington University’s educational work. The center focuses GW’s resources to meet community needs beyond the campus, promote active citizenship in a diverse democracy, and enhance teaching, learning and scholarship at GW. Read more >>


Kiva is a non-profit that offers 0% interest loans up to $10,000 to social entrepreneurship ventures.

Kiva Loans can be used for any business purpose, such as investing in new equipment, purchasing inventory, hiring staff, expanding product lines, marketing or advertising, etc.

Loans are crowd-funded on the Kiva website by a global community of over 1.6M people around the world who invest as little as $25. It's a powerful marketing platform that can get your business exposure to new potential customers and advocated. Their funding success rate is 90% and the process only takes a few weeks. To apply for a loan, visit borrow.kiva.orgLearn more >>

Social Entrepreneurship Courses in GWSB

Social Entrepreneurship (MGT 6285) - 3 Credit Hours

Theory and practice of social entrepreneurship. The power and limits of social entrepreneurship as a tool for creating sustainable and scalable social impact.

Social Entrepreneurship That Matters (MGMT 4900) - 3 Credit Hours (Undergraduate)

A new type of entrepreneur is evolving, one that innovates for solutions, not just for profits, and is eager to do well while doing good. Learn about Social Entrepreneurship in conjunction with a real-life practice, Lemonade Day-DC. Lemonade Day is powered nationally by Google for Entrepreneurs and will take place in 50 cities across the country this year. Students will be challenged to learn practical business skills, give back to society and use business to solve the world's problems. Explore the principles of shared value creation and have the opportunity to take Lemonade Day-DC to the next level and make a lasting impact on the entire DC community.

Social Impact 360

Social Impact 360, formerly known as Compass Fellows and supported by the Kenneth Cole Foundation, is a global family of young social innovators supported by peer and professional mentors. The Compass Fellowship is a one-year program that identifies the most passionate first-year undergraduates at schools around the country, inspires them to start a social venture, and empowers them to solve the world's greatest problems with socially-conscious business.

For more information, check out the Social Impact 360 Home Page

The Business of Good by Jason Haber (GW Alumni)

The Business of Good narrates the story behind social entrepreneurship as told by the individuals compelled to create a change in the world--not just another business. Serial and social entrepreneur Jason Haber intertwines case studies and anecdotes that show how social entrepreneurship is creating jobs, growing the economy, and ultimately changing the world. Learn more >>