• CAUSE meet and greet CAUSE meet and greet


    The Center for the Advancement & Understanding of Social Enterprises 

What is a Social Enterprise?

Social enterprises differ from socially responsible businesses in that they have a dual mission, satisfying both a social and business objective. They are cause-driven businesses, seeking profit with a purpose that attracts impact investors by sustaining their viability. A social enterprise achieves specific social objectives by reinvesting profits in a socially responsible mission. They accomplish this through innovation and by targeting areas that are outside the economic mainstream. This increasingly popular solution to market failure or government budget constraint uses a business approach and market-based solutions.

Many for-profit businesses as well as mutual funds and brokerage firms are becoming socially conscious by integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into their decisions. They recognize the material value brought by sustainable businesses and social enterprises, sometimes referred to as “conscious capitalism.”


Popular Examples of Social Enterprises

While there are many definitions of these ventures, there is broad agreement that the following ventures address a wide variety of social and economic issues:

  • Acumen
  • Aravind Eye Care System
  • BioLite
  • B Lab
  • BRAC
  • Change.org
  • d.light
  • Drishtee
  • Etsy
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Greyston Bakery
  • Kiva
  • LifeStraw
  • Medic Mobile
  • Natura
  • Newman’s Own
  • Schwab Foundation
  • Skoll Foundation
  • SKS Microfinance
  • TerraCycle
  • Tom Shoes
  • Warby Parker

Closer to home, New York State’s Capital Region is fortunate to have many socially responsible enterprises covering a range of structures including B-Corps, charities, non-profits, philanthropic and volunteer organizations, and/or women- & diverse-owned small businesses, all of which greatly push a community-supportive agenda. 


The Vision

To become a hub of activity that attracts the university, community, business executives and thought leaders to engage faculty and students in current social and environmental issues. This will demonstrate the powerful positive influence that various businesses can have in improving everyone's lives.


Social Enterprise connection graphic

Contact Us

Paul Miesing outside CAUSE office


Paul Miesing, Founding Director

The Center for the Advancement & Understanding of Social Enterprises
Massry Center for Business
BB 110
1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12222

William Wales speaking at NYS Business Plan Competition


Bill Wales, Standish Professor of Entrepreneurship

The Center for the Advancement & Understanding of Social Enterprises
Massry Center for Business
BB 321
1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12222