Social Enterprises: Explained

Last Updated on April 21, 2023

Our two databases of volunteer opportunities and social enterprises power Grassroots Volunteering. These databases serve two separate types of service-minded travel.

Our social enterprise database is for travelers visiting a new city or town who want to support local businesses operating with an underlying social mission. Our social enterprise database offers geo-located businesses you can use to add a simple, easy way to spend your tourism dollars on worthwhile grassroots initiatives. The volunteer database connects travelers with long-term projects (think weeks and months) in need of service-minded volunteers.

The global social enterprise database is the only one of its kind in the world (we’ve not yet found another, at least!) and we believe supporting these businesses can help positively change the face of modern tourism by connecting travelers directly with the local businesses impacting their own communities. Read more about what exactly it means to be a social enterprise.


Consider using the GV database for your next international trip if:

  • you’re interested in using your tourism dollars to fund local projects.
  • you don’t have time to dedicate to a long-term volunteer project.
  • you like smaller, grassroots businesses that further social causes.
  • you want to connect at the local-level with the people, place, and culture.
  • you plan to eat, shop, or tour the place you’re visiting—our database has a huge range of businesses!


GV Social Enterprises:

  • are hand-vetted businesses that use some portion of the business model to address a social cause or issue.
  • are not affiliated with the GV volunteering brand, nor do they endorse this site. We add organizations with a structure or mission we support, and no organization can pay to be listed on the site.
  • come with no guarantees. When you use an organization you take on full responsibility and liability for your travels. We do our best to check business models and commitment to a cause before we list them in our database, but many variables are out of our control and you should always use your good judgement and research.
  • conform to basic ethical guidelines and industry best-practices to the best of our knowledge. We do not condone any activities that compromise the well-being of a people, culture, animal, or environment.
  • are offered freely for your use to help in your service-minded travels. Only you know if a business, tour, or experience is a good fit for your skills, health, or well-being.


A few other notes about our database:

  • Due to the large nature of our database, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any details. We do our best to continually monitor and re-evaluate businesses, but it’s up to you to research the business before you plan your trip and ensure they are 1) in operation, 2) accepting patrons, and 3) a good, ethical choice for your service-minded travel experience.
  • Each business is geo-located on a map as a guideline for you, not a rule. Businesses can close down overnight, so if you arrive at a spot and it’s no longer in operation, ask around to see if it’s moved spots. And if it’s closed down, we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and we’d love to know about it—please shoot us an email so we can make GV as helpful and accurate as possible.
  • It’s a work-in-progress, if you don’t find a business to support right now, check back soon! We’re often adding new businesses as our GV Ambassadors continue to map their hometowns and the world at large.

Search Social Enterprises Now!