The Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article “Tech Boom Hits New York.” The article highlights an up and coming e-commerce, fashion eyewear company, Warby Parker. The company is attracting investors left and right, in fact, they are turning away investors. What’s interesting about the article is that it does not mention once a critical component of Warby Parker’s business model – “for every pair of glasses sold, we provide one to someone in need.”
Warby Parker’s success is an excellent example of how profit and social impact aren’t mutually exclusive; but, where’s the plug for social enterprise? Is it necessary?
Social enterprise is nothing new, and over the decades, acronyms, catchy phrases, and terminology have shaped the concept of social enterprise to become a unique sector. Vocabulary has its role, but has it stifled the potential of social enterprise to impact mainstream business by segregating itself? I think WSJ’s article on Warby Parker points to an underlying sentiment in the traditional business world; it’s great if you do something good for the world but it’s still the bottom line that matters. If the goal of social enterprise is to change the way business is done, maybe it’s time to ditch the semantics and work on creating killer business models.