Abridged excerpt from book “51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship“. 

Business Models for Social Enterprise

In order to bake social impact into a new startup or business, social entrepreneurs have become more creative in thinking about business models. Here are a few business models for social enterprise that mission-driven founders are considering.

  • Buy one, give one. TOMS is an example of an impact company using this model. It has been a business model and in all of their marketing from the start. The nice thing about a business model like this is that it’s as easy to explain to your investors as it is to your customers and to your team. The simplicity can be a big plus when telling your story and mapping out impact goals.
  • Sliding scale / pay what you can. This model has been employed by a number of social enterprises. One notable one is the Aravind Eye Care System in India. It is a nonprofit social enterprise that performs sight-saving eye surgeries. Founded in 1976, Aravind has treated well over 32 million patients and performed more than 4 million surgeries. In fact, according to it’s 2014-2015 annual report, Aravind medical teams at the 67 affiliated locations see over 15,000 patients and perform 1,500 surgeries on a daily basis.  It utilizes a low-cost, high-volume business model for eye surgery services. About 70% of eye surgeries are performed for free or below cost, while 30% are performed for above cost without compromising quality of care on either side of the price range.
  • Percentage models. Salesforce popularized the 1-1-1 model. As a company that was not founded on impact, it is notable that this giving model has been implemented from its start. It means that the company gives away 1% of its product, employee time, and revenue to charitable causes and to the community. A social enterprise could use a percentage model such as Salesforce’s to effectuate a commitment to impact. Another firm, very nice design, based in Los Angeles, uses a “Give Half” model in which 50% of design projects are completed pro bono for nonprofit or community clients—the team at very nice designs has also created featuring over a hundred social impact business models.


image of "51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship"

This is an abridged excerpt from the book, “51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship” by Neetal Parekh. You can learn more and buy the entire book—which is told as a story of three aspiring social entrepreneurs and which dives into key aspects of social entrepreneurship including defining the space, legal structures, securing funding, and measuring impact at

Get excited, we are sitting back down with graphic designer, founder, TEDx speaker, and author Matthew Manos to hear about his latest initiatives,– which maps out business models for social impact companies. We’ll chat about how this emerged as a project and has involved as a company and learn about the toolkit customized for different audiences…and has evolved to to a new consulting and training business Matt and his team are building to support startups, founders, and companies as they explore different business models that pursue profit and impact.


Listen to the Podcast Episode 



Back with Matthew Manos

Matthew Manos is the Founder and Managing Director of verynice, a global design-strategy consultancy that gives half of its work away for free to non-profit organizations. As of 2015, verynice has been able to gift over $3,750,000 worth of pro-bono design and consulting services across 45 countries.

Matthew is also the Founder of Models of Impact, a platform and workshop curriculum that engages social entrepreneurs and non-profit executives in the design of business, as well as Reginald, an online tool that celebrates and measures the impact of pro-bono projects.

Matthew was named one of “Seven Millennials Changing the World” by The Huffington Post, and his ideas have been featured in numerous publications globally. Matthew frequently speaks about design and social entrepreneurship at noted forums including TEDx and has been a featured speaker at Singularity University, UCLA, and General Assembly.

He is the author of “How to Give Half of Your Work Away for Free” and is an advisory board member for several organizations across the private and social sectors. Matthewe holds a BA in Design Media Arts from UCLA, and an MFA in Media Design Practices from Art Center College of Design.


Show Notes

Here are a few interviews and articles mentioned in this episode.

More About Matthew Manos


More About Models of Impact

  • Website:
  • “Our mission is to promote legacy and entrepreneurship in the social impact community by developing tools and resources that make it easy (and fun!) to design disruptive business models. “