What are fourth sector companies and why will they change the world?

Surely you know by heart what the economic and social sectors are, well, in recent years there has emerged what is known as the fourth sector, companies with a purpose that seek something more than just financial profitability. Read on if you want to know what fourth sector companies are and why they will change the world.

But let’s start at the beginning… What are the conventional economic-social sectors and what do they encompass?


This is made up of all private companies independent of the State. Within this large group can be companies of the:

  • Primary sector: Those that extract and exploit natural resources (agriculture, livestock, fishing, mining…).
  • Secondary sector: Those in charge of transforming raw materials into products ready for consumption or goods.
  • Tertiary sector: They are in charge of distributing and commercializing consumer products, goods or services (hotels, tourism, banking services…).


Corresponds to all the institutions that belong to the State (Treasury, Congress and Senate, Cervantes Institute ….).


Finally, the third sector includes all non-profit entities (NGOs, associations…).

Although it seems that this division groups everything together very well, the truth is that they were delimited many years ago and the reality is that the world is changing faster and faster and that means that the boundaries between the three sectors have been blurring as many companies have emerged that combine their commercial objectives with social approaches.


It arises as a response to the current needs of the planet and people. Its main characteristic is that in their activity they combine actions to create a positive impact on society and the environment while obtaining economic benefits.

Although Corporate Social Responsibility has long been a priority for companies, companies in the fourth sector go further. They continue to be profit-driven companies but seek to be sustainable in the long term, a goal that is just as important as becoming financially self-sufficient.

Some of the pillars of the companies in this sector are: social purpose, profit motive, transparency, care for their workers, equality, commitment to society and the environment…

características del cuarto sector

The fourth sector is coming in so strong that it is estimated that “around 70% of the millennial generation would accept a lower salary in exchange for working for a good cause”. Via El Pais.

Want to know more? Discover the social and environmental impact projects behind these 5 Spanish brands.

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