It’s been almost a decade since organizations such as the Red Campaign and businesses such as TOMS Shoes introduced a new kind of entrepreneurship to Americans. Today, the social business movement has expanded to influence just about every kind of sellable product imaginable. It’s also grown to embody much of what drives and defines the Millennial generation.
“When I hear from young people who want to do something meaningful, they talk, most often, about opening a restaurant,” wrote essayist and former Yale professor William Deresiewicz in the New York Times, noting his observations of Millennial entrepreneurs in Portland. “Today’s ideal social form is not the commune or the movement or even the individual creator as such; it’s the small business. Nonprofits are still hip, but students don’t dream about joining one, they dream about starting one. In any case, what’s really hip is social entrepreneurship—companies that try to make money responsibly, then give it all away.”
University heads observed this trend and responded. In 2011, London’s Hult International Business School began offering a master’s degree in social entrepreneurship. A growing number of U.S. universities now offer similar programs.
Christians have also embraced this movement wholeheartedly. Recently, Christianity Today spotlighted a dozen Christian entrepreneurs as part of its "33 Under 33" series, which featured Millennial leaders who are making a difference in a variety of vocations. Today, Christians are at the helm of hundreds of fair-trade businesses, selling items such as coffee, clothing, jewelry, stationary, handbags, scarves, tablecloths, tea, pottery, baskets, soaps, and shoes—and that’s just a sampling.1