Social Entrepreneurship and the Direct Selling Channel: A Case Study on Trades of Hope

Christine Mollenkopf-Pigsley
March 12, 2019
North America
Ethics & Social Justice, Entrepreneurship, Marketing & Sales, Human Resources & Organizational Behavior
18 pages
direct selling, effecuation, entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, fair trade
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Two homeschooled Florida teenagers meet in a homeschool group arranged by their moms, start community college at 14 years of age and discover a shared passion for social entrepreneurship. The result of that passion was the global jewelry and accessories start-up called Trades of Hope, founded in 2010. The company utilizes the direct selling distribution channel to create a supply chain of fair trade artisans in developing countries and a U.S. salesforce of more than 7,000 compassionate entrepreneurs who build businesses of their own. This case reveals the journey from passion to profit is not unique from other successful entrepreneurs on Main Street or in Silicon Valley. The common framework is the effectuation mindset and the process by which they innovate. This case study introduces students of entrepreneurship, marketing, social enterprise, or organizational development to the effectuation methodology, also known as the entrepreneurial mindset, using social entrepreneurship in the context of ethical direct selling and the movement to go beyond social responsibility to social value creation.

Learning Outcomes: 
  • Conceptualize the unique nature of a social enterprise and characterize the key elements of a social enterprise through the creation of social value.
  • Define ethical direct selling and be able to describe the differences between traditional retailing, direct marketing, and the direct selling distribution channel.
  • Describe the effectuation worldview in the social entrepreneurship context.
  • Describe the principles of the effectuation method (also known as the entrepreneurial method), including means, co-creation, affordable loss, and leveraging contingencies, and recognize them in other social ventures.

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