Social Enterprise business models - how does yours work?

19 September 2023

Author: Ned Wells, Director at Cicada Consulting
Email: [email protected]


In the summer of 2023 I found myself getting increasingly irked that so many organisations doing socially or environmentally-positive work have to ask for donations to keep the lights on.

Yes I know there are charities that just can’t have a commercial model. And those are the ones that do need to keep on the ‘fundraising treadmill’ – which is getting harder and harder.

But there are other organisations doing socially or environmentally important work where there is a commercial service or product they can sell.

And my mission is to help them thrive.

Now, there’s plenty of information out there about the impact they’re making or want to make, but there’s less information available about the business models that actually work.

So I set out to do a series of short interviews to find out about these business models. I recorded them and kept them short, 15 minutes max. I wanted to find out about social enterprise business model… meaning, who pays for what services? And what problem(s) does this solve for them?

I’d ask a bit about your recent successes, and maybe about something that went wrong recently.

This wasn’t about sharing commercially sensitive details or any actual numbers.

This was about exploring which ways of doing business actually work for social enterprises.

Here are my first six interviews:


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