Social Intrapreneur: Definition, Characteristics & Impact

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Social intrapreneurs combine a cause with a business solution. In this lesson, you'll learn more about social entrepreneurs and the kind of impact they can have in an organization.

Changing the World

Sara has many favorites causes and tries to help out where she can: sending gifts to underprivileged children at Christmas, volunteering at her local animal shelter, and signing up to participate in canned food drives at her local grocery store.

Lately, however, Sara has noticed an increase in the articles and stories she's seen and heard about the scarcity of safe, clean drinking water in many communities around the world. At her job for a bottled beverage manufacturer, Sara begins to wonder how she can develop a new product or service her company can implement to help address this water quality issue. Maybe she can do a little goodwill and increase their revenue in the process?

Sara's drive and determination to transform her workplace into a community addressing a social issue makes her one of many innovators known as a social intrapreneur.

What's a Social Intrapreneur?

Social intrapreneurs are employees that build initiatives inside of the workplace that yield social and/or environmental good, all while supporting the organization's mission. They are the people we work next to every day who are trying to impact change in the workplace and, ultimately, the world.

For social intrapreneurs, issues might be related to the financial, nutritional, environmental, or educational wellness of their community and the entire planet as a whole.

While many entrepreneurs are working at home and around the world building their own mission-based organizations, social intrapreneurs working inside their company to deliver business results with positive outcomes for social and environmental issues. This could be new products, services, or business processes that address important social issues or help to reach underserved markets.


Examples of existing social intrapreneurship fostered by businesses include:

  • BP's campaign to encourage drivers to reduce petrol usage
  • Microsoft, which has committed to delivering affordable technology to the next five billion people around the world
  • Coca-Cola, which champions water sustainability and other environmental challenges
  • Ford Motor Company developed a project designed to address transportation needs in urban population areas
  • The Dow Chemical Company is devoted to emphasizing green chemistry
  • Levi's, a denim company, created 'Water<Less Jeans', a product that reduced water consumption in the making

Whatever the idea, social intrapreneurs are not afraid to navigate their corporate culture to introduce new ideas to benefit business and society.

Social intrapreneurship is a bottom-up approach in a company. Rather than a top-down approach starting with management; social intrapreneurship begins with employees. These individuals are innovators coming up with new concepts, products, services and business models to create new opportunities.

They may start with a donation campaign and run a corporate volunteer program or inspire broader change such as pushing for food traceability or transparency in the use of our natural resources.


Most social intrapreneurs share similar characteristics that define who they are and why they operate the way they do. They tend to be:

1. Focused on social change; have a strong social consciousness

2. Determined and willing to take risks

3. Self-confident and independent

4. A strong and effective communicator

5. Aware of aligning market and customer needs

6. Flexible and resilient

7. Influential, innovative, and collaborative

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