The Right Fit: Three Models for Social Impact
Traditional business models are focused on generating profits--the more, the
better. But those models are being challenged by young, business-savvy,
socially-conscious professionals who believe that business has the potential to
drive social change. They are creating new ways and new spaces in which to do
The 2013 Social Enterprise Symposium brought together executives from several
such companies in a panel titled “The Right Fit: Three Models for Social
Impact,” to show students different kinds of structures for social enterprises.
Whole Foods is a profit-making corporation, but conducts itself as a
"purpose-driven corporation," balancing strategy that grows the company and
strategy that supports its mission. "We feel like we can only grow our impact
when all of our stakeholders are happy," said Scott Allshouse, President,
Mid-Atlantic Region. "We exchange money, we make profits, but we really believe
that our growth and our ability to impact the world is through an even exchange,
where everyone feels like it's a win."
Far at the other end of the business model spectrum is Nick Vilelle's CAUSE
Philanthropub. It serves food and beer, just like any other neighborhood
watering hole, but 100 percent of the profits are donated to a rotating
collection of charities. VIlelle, his co-owners and staff receive salaries and
hope to eventually give about $100,000 to charities each year.
Carbon War Room, which invests in technologies and businesses that create
solutions to climate change, represented yet another type of social enterprise.
"We are driving investment and finance into a space that is long overdue. Keep
money moving--that is our mantra," said Ginna Newton, the company's CFO.
“The Right Fit: Three Models for Social Impact” panel was moderated by Curt
Grimm, Charles A. Taff Chair of Economics and Strategy at the Smith School.
Panelists included Scott Allshouse, President Mid-Atlantic region of Whole
Foods; Nick Vilelle, Founder of CAUSE Philanthropub; Ginna Newton, CFO of Carbon
About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader
in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the
University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate,
full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive
education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The
school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning
locations in North America and Asia.