Since its inception as The National Gathering for Social Entrepreneurs in 1998, the Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA) has been the champion and key catalyst for the development of the social enterprise sector in the United States. Our vision is for social enterprise to reach its potential as a force for more effective and sustainable social impact. We empower social enterprises with the tools and resources they need to succeed, and work to foster a social enterprise ecosystem in which they can thrive.
Social enterprise is a dynamic, growing and increasingly robust field. Upon the Alliance’s founding however, social enterprise was a burgeoning field with little attention, structure, influence or connection. Six pioneers of social enterprise (Jerr Boschee, Jed Emerson, Gary Mulhair, John Riggan, Billy Shore and Richard Steckel) recognized this gap and organized The National Gathering for Social Entrepreneurs in order to convene thought leaders and practitioners who could share ideas, lessons learned and networks in order to increase their impact. Throughout the following two decades, The National Gathering for Social Entrepreneurs transformed into the Social Enterprise Alliance, a membership organization focused on advancing the field of social enterprise.
Today, social enterprises are making an impact in numerous industries and across many sectors. No longer are social enterprises simply non-profits with earned income strategies, but instead include hybrid and “for-benefit” organizations that are borne out of the desire to address market failures and basic unmet needs with sustainable solutions. Social enterprises, such as Goodwill Industries, VisionSpring and Benetech, employ the traditionally “unemployable,” reach the otherwise “unreachable,” and serve the previously underserved communities throughout our world.
Social Enterprise Alliance is the platform for such organizations and the individuals who dedicate themselves to social progress through social enterprise. We support our members and ultimately advance the field by
- Providing a platform for social entrepreneurs and social enterprises – Members of SEA can leverage the Member Directory, Job and Events Board, and Online Marketplace to connect with peers, promote opportunities and sell their products and services more effectively than ever before.
- Building national and local social enterprise networks – With 1,100+ members and 16 chapters across 42 states, SEA is the largest network of social entrepreneurs and social enterprise practitioners in the United States.
- Convening the field – SEA’s annual Summit is the most prominent social enterprise convening in the United States and has brought together leaders, practitioners, and newcomers from the field since 1998.
- Curating and sharing knowledge to build capacity – Through a variety of offerings including the SE Toolbelt Knowledge Center of 20,000+ publications, the most widely-read social enterprise newsletter and monthly expert webinars, SEA is the go-to source for the intellectual capital which fuels social enterprise.
- Developing the ecosystem – Through national partnerships, SEA makes the case for social enterprise and works to create an ecosystem in which social enterprises can thrive.