What’s a social enterprise?
Social enterprises are businesses whose primary purpose is the common good. These businesses use the power of the marketplace to advance social, environmental or human justice agendas. Three characteristics distinguish a social enterprise from other types of businesses, nonprofits and government agencies:
- It directly addresses an intractable social need and serves the common good
- Its commercial activity is a strong revenue driver
- The common good is its primary purpose
At Pine Street Inn, our social enterprises in food services and building maintenance provide training opportunities for men and women transitioning out of homeless and into the workforce. At the same time, they generate revenue to support the training.
Pine Street’s food services social enterprise first launched in 2000, providing meals to nonprofits, schools and other organizations. In 2011, the business expanded to include corporate catering. Proceeds from iCater fully fund Pine Street’s food services training program. iCater also provides trainees with valuable experience working in a professional kitchen
In 2009, Pine Street launched Boston HandyWorks, a social enterprise offering basic repair and maintenance services to area organizations and homeowners.