“Social Entrepreneurship & the Mission of God pt. 4 | beer and ex-gang members

Today we are ready for part 4 of six-week series on Social Entrepreneurship and the Mission of God. This week, we want to take a look at how Christians are engaged in social entrepreneurship. It will be helpful to understand a few concepts that help frame and clarify social entrepreneurialism.


The first thing we need is a basic working definition. This definition is admittedly simple, and if you want a more comprehensive description, there has been books, posts, and academic papers dedicated to comprehensively understanding social entrepreneurialism. For our sake, we will define social entrepreneurialism as “using entrepreneurial capacities for the betterment of humanity.” 

The next concepts will help give shape to our simple definition of social entrepreneurship.

  • Social entrepreneurialism has the ability to change or improve people’s lives or improve the word is not just a side project, but rather a key focus for the social entrepreneur.
  • Social entrepreneurs can be in a for-profit or non-profit business
  • Social entrepreneurs use sound business practices to make their ventures sustainable and scalable.
  • Social entrepreneurialism is not only concerned with helping elevate people to new levels of income, status, and living but also with trying to change the systems that created the need in the first place.
  • Social entrepreneurialism isn’t the only way to bring about change or to do good. There are lots of other ways. Advocacy, community groups, disaster relief organizations, governments, and other large all can work together to bring change and good to the world.
  • Because of the entrepreneurial spirit and the willingness to disrupt, we think social entrepreneurialism is one of the more exciting ways to affect social change.


Let’s take a look at a Christian example of social entrepreneurialism. There is a long history of Christians who have used their skills and gifts in business to make a difference in the world, including Arthur Guinness and his work to bring change using the Guinness Brewery in the 1700s in Ireland (this is a good read if you aren’t familiar with how Guinness affected social change). We don’t often associate beer with God and social change, but that is precisely the story of Guinness.

A modern example of social entrepreneurialism that was born out of trying to meet a need and change a system is Homeboy Industries started by Father Gregory Boyle. Homeboy Industries started with trying to solve a problem.

This is from their website:

Homeboy Industries began when a concerned group of Angelenos, led by Father Gregory Boyle, asked a simple question: “Can we improve the health and safety of our community through jobs and education rather than through suppression and incarceration?” The answer was yes.


Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of their community. Homeboy Industries is an excellent example of a non-profit organization using social entrepreneurialism to affect change. Full-time employment is offered to 200 men and women (who are otherwise unemployable) at a time through one of the social enterprise business that Homeboy runs.

At heart, this is social entrepreneurialism. Homeboy Industries was born out of the Christian faith of its founder, and it continues to be so today. The example of Homeboy Industries, the history of Guinness, and other Christians who, out of their faith and belief that God loves and desires the flourishing all of humanity has worked to create a better world serve as inspirational examples for us at Pro Deo as we work to create pathways for children and youth to flourish.

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“Social Entrepreneurship & the Mission of God pt. 4 | beer and ex-gang members

Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts is the Executive Director of the Pro Deo Foundation and when he's not working, he loves to spend time with his wife and two daughters finding fun things to do in the Santa Barbara area.

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