Fundamental Models

Market Intermediary Model

The market intermediary model of social enterprise provides services to its target population or "clients," small producers (individuals, firm or cooperatives), to help them access markets. Social enterprise services add value to client-made products, typically these services include: product development; production and marketing assistance; and credit. The market intermediary either purchases the client-made products outright or takes them on consignment, and then sells the products in high margin markets at a mark-up.

Employment Model

The employment model of social enterprise provides employment opportunities and job training to its target populations or "clients," people with high barriers to employment such as disabled, homeless, at-risk youth, and ex-offenders. The organization operates an enterprise employing its clients, and sells its products or services in the open market. The type of business is predicated on the appropriateness of jobs it creates for its clients, regarding skills development, and consistency with clients' capabilities and limitations, as well as its commercial viability.

Low-Income Client as Market Model

The Low Income Client as Market model of social enterprise is a variation on the Fee-for-Service model, which recognizes the target population or "clients" a market to sell goods or services. The emphasis of this model is providing poor and low-income clients access to products and services whereby price, distribution, product features, etc. bar access for this market. Examples of products and services may include: healthcare (vaccinations, prescription drugs, eye surgery) and health and hygiene products (iodize salt, soap, eyeglasses, earring aids, sanitary napkins), utility services, (electricity, biomass, and water), etc. for which they pay.

Cooperative Model

The cooperative model of social enterprise provides direct benefit to its target population or "clients," cooperative members, through member services: market information, technical assistance/extension services, collective bargaining power, economies of bulk purchase, access to products and services, access to external markets for member-produced products and services, etc. The cooperative membership is often comprised of small-scale producers in the same product group or a community with common needs--i.e. access to capital or healthcare. Cooperative members are the primary stakeholders in the cooperative, reaping benefits of income, employment, or services, as well as investing in the cooperative with their own resources of time, money, products, labor, etc.

Market Linkage Model

The market linkage model of social enterprise facilitates trade relationships between the target population or “clients,” small producers, local firms and cooperatives, and the external market. The social enterprise functions as a broker connecting buyers to producers and vice versa, and charging fees for this service. Selling market information and research services is a second type of business common in the market linkage model. Unlike the market intermediary model, this type of social enterprise does not sell or market clients' products; rather it connects clients to markets.