Patterns in Social Entrepreneurship Research

Patterns in Social Entrepreneurship Research

Edited by Jill Kickul and Sophie Bacq

The contributors expertly focus on the individual, organizational and institutional levels of social entrepreneurship. They address the role of personal values and leadership in the conduct of social entrepreneurial initiatives while stressing the importance of stakeholders in relation to human resource management, innovation or opportunity discovery. Finally, they analyze the role of institutions in legitimating social entrepreneurs' actions.

Chapter 10: Verifying social enterprises: applying lessons from Fairtrade and other certifications

Elizabeth Bennett, Donald Gregory, Robert Leaver and Kelly Ramirez

Subjects: business and management, social entrepreneurship, development studies, social entrepreneurship, politics and public policy, social entrepreneurship


This chapter tells the story of Social Venture Partners of Rhode Island, a support organization for social enterprises. SVPRI’s stakeholders requested assistance in marketing and growth, and SVPRI and its consulting firm, New Commons, responded by developing a label that qualifying stakeholders could use to verify their work as a social enterprise. In preparation for developing standards and creating a verification process for their label, the SVPRI/New Commons team convened stakeholder focus groups, researched extant social enterprise certifications, and studied the history of Fairtrade certification. This chapter describes these investigations, their findings, and the resulting Buy with Heart™ verification process. The authors posit that organizational form is irrelevant, and that – contrary to conventional theory and traditional practice – both for-and nonprofit social enterprises can be held to the same standards of prioritizing social impact. They also argue for peer-verified certification, as opposed to self-certifications, which lack accountability, or thirdparty auditing, which does less to foster a practitioners’ community. This chapter speaks to the literature on voluntary certifications, social enterprise definition, and multi-stakeholder decision making.

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