Social Enterprise Examples & Case Studies

The following case studies and social enterprise examples were written by the Wells Foundation to be educational and inspirational. We believe they serve as excellent examples of social entrepreneurship and how foundations can use impact investing to provide support. We hope sharing them will inspire new social enterprise ideas from others.

ds-connex case study

Ds-connex is a for-profit social enterprise with the goal of helping the Down syndrome community go from raising $12 million per year to $40 million per year through a combination of a peer-to-peer fundraising system, extensive social media support, and sharing of best practices through community building. This case study explains how the Wells Foundation, GroundWork group, and the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio collaborated to develop the technology, share the intellectual property, and structure the joint venture as a low-profit limited liability corporation (L3C).
Download Ds-connex Case Study


Citra a for-profit social enterprise, is the first communications application to store its information in the cloud, enabling parents, teachers and therapists to provide vital consistency to a child’s communications therapy. This case study explains the decision to structure Citra as a joint venture low-profit limited liability corporation (L3C) between the Wells Foundation and the Columbus Speech & Hearing Center.
Download Citra Case Study

GWG case study
GroundWork group is a nonprofit social enterprise that strengthens the ability of other nonprofit organizations to achieve their missions by providing affordable, efficient and scalable technology solutions. This case study describes how it was created after a three year community collaborative led by the United Way of Central Ohio and the Wells Foundation before launching in 2005 with a combination of grant funding and a line of credit.
Download GroundWork group Case Study

Heroes2u is a for-profit social enterprise that enables millennials to video chat with their favorite celebrities to raise money and awareness for charities. This case study explains the decision to incorporate Heroes2u as a for-profit C-corporation and to use a combination of debt and equity impact investments from the Wells foundation as startup funding.
Download Heroes2u Case Study
mission center

The Mission Center is a combination of an accelerator and an incubator focused on providing education and capacity building for social entrepreneurs. It has also created a shared services model and launched the first pooled health insurance products for nonprofits in the St. Louis area. This case study describes the hopes and challenges faced by incorporating the mission center as a low-profit limited liability corporation (L3C).
Download The Mission Center Case Study

Arc Ohio

Aids Resource Center Ohio is the largest AIDS service organization in the state of Ohio and has increased its sustainability significantly over the past few years by leveraging the power of social enterprise. In October of 2012, ARC Ohio launched a clinic and pharmacy to serve their patient population as a mission-aligned social enterprise. This case study describes how ARC Ohio decided between structuring these as programs within the existing organization or as new wholly-owned subsidiaries.
Download ARC Ohio Case Study


The Greyston Bakery is a workforce development social enterprise in Yonkers, New York that hires individuals with barriers to employment to combat poverty in the area. It was originally formed as a C-Corporation in 1982 but converted to a Benefit Corporation in February of 2012 the day the legislation was passed in New York. This case study describes Greyston’s evolution to becoming one of the largest workforce development social enterprises in the country and explains why it restructured as a Benefit Corporation.
Download The Greyston Bakery Case Study

PAST Foundation

The PAST Foundation combines anthropology and STEM to create transdisciplinary problem-based learning programs in school systems. These engaging learning labs transform the way children learn by connecting classrooms with the real world in very unique ways. The PAST Foundation used impact investing to renovate a new building and turn it into an Innovation Lab in partnership with Metro High School. Traditional lenders were unwilling to finance the project.
Download PAST Foundation Case Study


Additional Resources

The organizations listed below provide additional resources and events that may be helpful to you.

Mission Investors Exchange –
Social Enterprise Alliance –
Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship (APTE) Summit –
SEA Change –
Philanthropy Ohio –
Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations –
Social Enterprises in Central Ohio –

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