A Market Solution to Job Creation and Opportunity: Social Enterprise

Big Ideas for Job Creation

Author +
Carla Javits, REDF

Year: 2013

Public attention has focused increasingly on innovative strategies to expand employment, in the context of intransigent and high unemployment levels, slow job growth, and government cutbacks.
For roughly 20 million low-income Americans who face significant and multiple barriers to work – people with disabilities including mental health illnesses, people who have experienced homelessness or incarceration, and young adults disconnected from school and work – disproportionately high unemployment rates are not a new phenomenon.
To overcome barriers to employment, these individuals, their families and the communities that care about them have developed innovative ways to connect to the workforce. This paper describes a promising approach that we will refer to as employment social enterprises – businesses that create jobs with the explicit purpose of employing low-income people facing multiple barriers to employment and generating revenue to offset costs.
The paper further describes the policies that could fuel its growth. Employment social enterprises build on the supported employment approach offered by transitional jobs programs by providing supported employment with the high accountability that is demanded of any business competing in markets..

Download the Brief

Download the full report

Big Ideas for Jobs

This report is part of the Big Ideas for Jobs project. The ideas were proposed by experts in the job creation field who were tasked with developing new ideas about programs and policies that can help to create jobs. As a starting point, the following criteria were established for the ideas:

  1. The proposed programs should be designed for implementation by cities and/or states with or without federal support, should lead to net new job creation in a short-term framework, and should be accessible for low-skilled workers and offer some career opportunity;
  2. They should be practical, with implementation not requiring major political or institutional changes;
  3. Ideas should be sustainable, not requiring significant new investment and feasible at a relatively low cost per job;
  4. They should be scalable, at least at the state level; and
  5. They should be already tested.

The ideas have been divided into the categories of Tax and Employment Policy, Sectoral or Industry Ideas, Entrepreneurship.

Read more