Best Events for Social Entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurs supporting each other.

Throughout the past few years, an interesting subset of entrepreneurship has been on the rise. Once few and far between, social entrepreneurs are now popping up everywhere — advocating for and accomplishing reform through for-profit sustainable companies.

While many big companies have begun to make social consciousness a priority (for example, sustainability), they don’t exactly classify under the label of social entrepreneurship. To clarify, a social entrepreneur is, as per John Garger’s definition, “…a change agent who works with missionary zeal to create and sustain social values.” These companies usually develop solutions to social, environmental, and cultural problems.

As many top universities are now initiating social entrepreneurship programs and more social enterprises are launching, there is a pressing need for community and information sharing. Here are some events that can benefit aspiring or inspiring social entrepreneurs.

1. The Heart Series


Companies don’t have to be entirely socially focused coming into this event. However, the series of talks, panels, and workshops that take place over the course of this two-day event are intended to advise businesses on how they can make a bigger (positive) global impact.

Who It’s Right For

If you are a business owner or executive who wants to steer your company toward a more sustainable, socially-conscious future, this Los Angeles event can certainly come in handy.

The best part is that there are no expectations or pretensions — you don’t have to be doing it right at the outset, you just need to be open to learning.

2. Sustainatopia


As its name suggests, Sustainatopia is an event focusing on sustainability — and since starting in 2009, has actually become “one of the leading events in the world for social, financial and environmental sustainability & impact.”

The conference-festival duo has hosted over 2,300 speakers and 60 countries in its decade of existence.

Who It’s Right For

Considering the ever-increasing seriousness of the current climate crisis, this event is appropriate for any entrepreneur.

Not only is it environmentally important to make sure your company is green, but it’s also popular among consumers (turns out they don’t want to destroy the planet either).

3. The Net Impact Conference


The Net Impact Conference is a unique gathering of 1,500 people who genuinely care about their impact on the world. The event tasks itself with approaching today’s most pressing issues.

Who It’s Right For

This event isn’t just for companies, entrepreneurs, and leaders; it’s for anyone who wants to make a difference: students, sustainability advocates, activists, and influencers.

It’s a positive space where people can find inspiration from others with different backgrounds who are still working toward the same goal.



The goal of SOCAP’s world-renowned conference series is to “[increase] the flow of capital toward social good.”

Though there are activities throughout the year, the peak is SOCAP’s event in San Francisco, which brings together social entrepreneurs, investors, governments, foundations, and institutions from across the country (and sometimes even the world).

Who It’s Right For

SOCAP makes an effort to represent a diverse group of people at its conferences. The event’s coordinators don’t just want entrepreneurs or investors from one specific background, they want to include a broad spectrum of voices. Hence, this event is right for anyone looking to “accelerate the market at the intersection of money and meaning.”

5. Fast Company Innovation Festival


Business publication Fast Company holds an Innovation Festival each year in New York City. Last year’s headliners, Satya Nadella, Donna Langley, and Brian Cornell surely met the expectations set by the past four years of success in convening makers and innovators from across the world.

Who It’s Right For

This festival is really about the new and the next, and the people who are heralding this innovation. Attendance at this festival could benefit you and your business if you are seeking to meet and learn from leading creatives.

6. The Collaborative


Hosted in Boston, The Collaborative is a 3-day long “immersive experience” featuring workshops, keynotes and panels, and intentional networking, which include happy hours and hosted events.

This event is shaping up to be an extremely exciting event encompassing over 100 speakers and 1,200 attendees.

Who It’s Right For

The event is directed exclusively toward those in the nonprofit or social enterprise space. It’s perfect for those with an open mind who want to learn vital skills like marketing, data analysis, and networking.

7. Social Innovation Summit


Boasting star-studded past speakers like businessman Mark Cuban, Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez, and Lyft’s social impact leader Mike Masserman, the Social Innovation Summit clearly has the goods to make its goals a reality.

Ultimately, the impetus behind this Washington D.C. summit is bringing together the best minds to come up with “the next big idea.”

Who It’s Right For

This summit is not for people who want to sit at the sidelines and watch. It’s for those who want to be in the trenches, ideating, and building real solutions.

8. Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Summit


Though the organization says the day for women’s entrepreneurship is everyday, it has put aside one specific day a year to hold a Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Summit.

WEDO partners with change-leaders across the world to empower women, ultimately investing in what they know will catalyze immense financial benefits — because empowering women pays off.

Who It’s Right For

Though the event tackles many social issues, key ones are ecosystems, education, and policy creation that supports women in business.

If your interests align with any of these causes or you simply want to advocate for worldwide gender equality in business, then this is the event for you.

9. Social Enterprise Alliance’s Summit


The Social Enterprise Alliance’s Summit takes place each year in downtown Chicago. The event empowers “social enterprises with the tools and resources they need to succeed, and works to foster a social enterprise ecosystem in which they can thrive.” It’s not just about temporary solutions, but building a framework that allows for future success too.

Who It’s Right For

The event is right for almost anyone interested in social change as it brings together experts, funders, entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, and more for its workshops and celebrations. Your experience doesn’t matter — only your intent.

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