Social Enterprises: The Silver Lining Between the Free Market and Social Good

Social Enterprises: The Silver Lining Between the Free Market and Social Good



In recent years, there have been elevated tensions between the traditional free market economy and our society. Some of those tensions are related to misconceptions about a free market. Investopedia defines the free market as:

A market economy based on supply and demand with little or no government control. […]

In other words, it is a voluntary agreement between people who trade goods and services.

For example, when you go to the store to buy a loaf of bread, you are participating in the free market. In addition, a free market can also describe a political view or ideology. As we know, political differences can create tensions and misunderstandings between people of any political perspective.

The free market is a resource for job creation, economic growth, and mobility. It is also a resource for making a difference in the world through a hybrid business called a social enterprise.

“Social enterprises are revenue-generating businesses with a twist,” according to the BC Centre for Social Enterprise. These entities have two core values: To create goodwill and to earn revenue.

A social enterprise can be a for-profit, a nonprofit, or a charity. Perhaps some of those tensions in the past years related to the earning revenue part – business has had a bad reputation. Sometimes when people think about business, they think about scandals and fallout from big companies like Enron, or Lehman Brothers.

In reality, most businesses in this country are small businesses. According to the 2008 U.S. Census Bureau numbers, there were 3,617,764 companies with 1 to 4 employees, compared to 18,469 companies with over 500 employees. Small businesses create jobs. And social enterprises have double value: they create jobs and positive social change. They are an ideal opportunity for social entrepreneurs to change the world and earn revenue.

This bit of background is leading to our story: a story about a silver lining in the dark cloud between the traditional free market economy and the wellbeing of our society…

The Silver Lining

At the end of 2011, Craig Newmark’s craigconnects launched a project with a grand idea: Craig asked people to send in their ideas about how they would change the world in 2012. In early December 2011, Craig’s inspirational call-to-action lead us to submit our idea “How Secretary of Innovation Will Change the World in 365 Days”:

We created SoI’s [Secretary of Innovation] Web of Life series this year. Each day, we post pictures of anything in nature – animals, plants, water, people. We share the beauty and diversity of life as a reminder that everything is part of the Web of Life. is a spinoff of the Web of Life series – WoL means the Web of Life. is one way for people to think about our connection with nature. This new social media project will be a hybrid business model: self-funding for SoI and proceeds donated to charity.

December 27, 2011, our idea to change the world was selected and listed on craigconnects “16 People and Organizations Changing the World in 2012”:

Bessie and Claude DiDomenica over at Secretary of Innovation, share their ideas about building bridges and making connections by sharing “the beauty and diversity of life as a reminder that everything is part of the Web of Life.”

Turning Silver Into Gold

We took our pledge seriously. On December 31, 2012, we launched our photo sharing crowdfunding effort, “WoL” stands for “Web of Life.” Our purpose is to use photo sharing and crowdfunding to raise money for worthy causes. is now in Alpha/proof-of-concept mode.

In January 2013, craigconnects had another call-to-action: How does the Internet give you a voice? We heeded the call and published “How the Internet Gives a Voice”:

For many people, freedom and liberty seem to be ethereal nebulous concepts. However, people without freedom appreciate what we all often take for granted. Our thanks to craigconnects for the opportunity to remember ideas that are most precious to all of us: Freedom and liberty. We all need to work together to protect our liberties.

January 18th is Internet Freedom Day, and we’d like to share a few words of support.

On December 31, 2012, we launched, a photo sharing crowdfunding social enterprise. Our goal is to be a for-profit business run in the spirit of a non-profit: to do good and do well. We want to provide resources for worthy causes. The Internet is a resource for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The Internet has given us this voice to help others…

January 18, 2013, our blog on Internet freedom was selected and listed on craigconnects “Internet Freedom Day: Giving a voice to the voiceless.”

We were motivated by the challenge to make a difference in the world. Through hard work and finding the right people, has emerged as a social enterprise and a small business to create jobs.

2013 is going to be a great year for and other social enterprises. There is hope, possibility, and a silver lining. If you’ve thought about starting a business, embrace your entrepreneurial spirit! Stop thinking and take a step toward a new reality.

Epilogue has gotten off to a great start! But there is still much work to do. Our volunteer advisory board is in place with eight wonderful people who have offered their help. We invite others to join our advisory board, and welcome celebrity kudos and endorsements.

We are actively looking for other worthy causes that can benefit from crowdfunding. And we are lining up business partners who will provide discounts and freebies for our paying subscribers.

Bessie & Claude DiDomenica

Co-founders | Photo Sharing Philanthropy Engine

“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.”

–Dalai Lama

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama

About the Authors


Bessie DiDomenica, MBA is a successful entrepreneur, researcher, business professional, writer, social media manager, and agent of change. She is responsible for the contentand business development for

Bessie is a doctoral candidate in public policy and is writing her dissertation on urban food policy.

Claude DiDomenica is a gifted, award-winning jazz composer/guitarist and agent of change with an intuitive talent for solving computer problems. He dreamed up the idea and is the Webmaster and Chief Imagination Officer.

Claude thrives on creativity, and innovation, and is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence.

Copyright © 2013, All Rights Reserved [republished with permission]


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