Design Your Dream Social Enterprise


“People before profits”! But in the rat race of profit-making nowadays, is this yet another utopian dream - can we truly put people before profits and still earn enough to make a living? This is exactly what we call a social enterprise - a business motivated by effecting positive change in society and its environment. It can be just about anything, the sole condition is that we are put people and the environment first! Have you heard of Sophia Klumpp, the Canadian who is praised as the woman keeping school girls in school in Uganda? Her story is simple: Sophia ran out of tampons while in Uganda and could not easily find more where she was. She experienced the hardships of many African girls: “We soon realised that local girls were managing with local newspaper, rags and bark each month and often not going to school at all for the whole week of their period”. So Sophia went on to create Afripad - a revolutionary social enterprise that produces reusable (washable) sanitary pads while using pedal-operated sewing machines! The social enterprise is currently the biggest employer in the area! 

Indeed, we can put people and the environment first and still earn a decent living. We can be living the dream and serving humanity. And what place is better to start than sustainability?

In this activity, we will familiarise ourselves with the concept of social enterprise and dare design our own!

Warning! This activity can unleash your entrepreneurial talents and permanently make you happy!

Activity Type

Individual / Theoretical


<2 hours

Learning Outcomes

  • To envision yourself as a social entrepreneur

  • To establish a link between personal talents, interests, business opportunities and benefit for the society

  • To gain inspiration from others and open up for collaboration


Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Familiarise yourself with concepts like Social Entrepreneurship and Transition Enterprise.

  2. Decide which business idea you will work on. Go for a long walk, do some brainstorming / brainwriting, meditation, etc. if needed. Consider doing the activity “Your greatest joy / the world’s greatest need” under the Workshop module. Another way to get inspired could be to check out or some other crowd funding sites. They are full of more or less crazy business ideas, many of them sustainable or ethical.

  3. Create a presentation of your business idea including the following points. Try to include as many as possible. Plus, include other information that might be relevant to convince others to support your idea.

    1. Name of the project

    2. Service / products it will be providing. What would it cost?

    3. Design of the prototype if applicable.

    4. Describe the innovative aspects about the concept.

    5. Describe how the business embodies sustainability?

    6. How would you organise the initial funding? (Check alternative funding methods on the internet, like crowdfunding)

    7. What is the estimated time to become profitable?

    8. What is your marketing strategy?

  4. Think and design how are you going to describe your project to others, in two ways:

    1. Elevator pitch: this helps you to distill the essence of your project so that is very clear to others and catches their interest. It is also a very good exercise for you to really know what is the main basis and focus of your project.

    2. Extended project pitch: in case someone is interested in getting to know your project better or if you have the opportunity to present it somewhere, it is good to prepare a longer version of your elevator pitch where you show more details.

  5. Pitching - pitch your idea to friends and to people that you trust, individuals or groups. Ask for questions.

  6. Feedback and possibilities:

    1. Try this way of receiving feedback and seeing more possibilities: Encourage people to give you feedback/possibilities (“Please give me feedback on my ideas.”) Remain open and appreciate that feedback adds value.

    2. Now it’s important that you keep quiet!

    3. Let one person talk until there is a natural end.

    4. To encourage further valuable feedback you ask: "Is there anything else on your mind that you might have left out?” Keep quiet again.

    5. No matter what they say, note it down. It might sound weird in the beginning, but is valuable.

    6. Allow each person to give feedback a second time. When finished, say: "Thank you!”

  7. See the peers as potential “investors” in your business idea. The investment can come in many forms such as money, ideas, materials or co-working.


Choose an enterprise or organisation with a vision or cause that you feel passionate about. Keep in mind that it has to be connected to social entrepreneurship, so combining social justice/common good/sustainability etc with earning a decent living! This can be a non-profit, for-profit entity, co-operative, mutual organization, a disregarded entity, a social business, a benefit corporation, a community interest company or a charity organization. Try to connect with the enterprise or organisation via email, skype or even by scheduling a meeting in person. Try to organise a field visit to experience first-hand the type of work these inspiring people do and talk to them! Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you wish - they will appreciate it and you are there to learn and grow! If possible, try to do a one-day (or more) internship, volunteering or job-shadowing! The experience can be life-changing!

For more inspiration, check out the activity “Quest for a crazy entrepreneur”.



  • How does the idea connect to your passion and talents?

  • What would your personal role and involvement be?

  • Which “needs of the world” would the business fulfil, if realised?

  • How is your business idea sustainable and ethical?

  • What are the risks and opportunities?

  • What support do you need to move forward?

Instructions for Submission

Upload your presentation (1 photo) and submit a short written reflection, so that your peers can give you feedback. Instructions on how to upload photos and how to submit things in Moodle can be found here: Instructions on Submission&Uploading

Instructions for Assessment

Provide feedback to at least one participant that has done this activity. Instructions on providing feedback can be found here: Instructions on Feedback

Tried an activity? Give us feedback!

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