To us, social enterprise means helping others, even under pressure.
Success comes with great social environments
The success rate of many businesses is very slow and failures start to emerge when the initial money and enthusiasm runs out. Lack of enthusiasm is a symptom of a declining business or business community.
The reason for this is that insufficient effort is made in understanding just what a business really is. We have already seen changes in thinking and understanding that businesses are now regarded as the engine room of the community. But, there needs to be much more thinking done before we see the vast majority see businesses as valuable and sustainable community assets.
Many of the businesses to date have been started by people with a purely commercial outlook on life and on the outcomes of a business, and that’s fine. However, more is needed in order to make a real difference in our communities, particularly regional, rural and remote communities. We need to move off the commercial seat and put more emphasis on the social and relationship aspects.
The Social Enterprise
A Social Enterprise is a means by which people come together and use market-based ventures, like a business, to achieve agreed social, economic and environmental ends for their employees, customers, their community and the general public.
A Social Enterprise is characterised by creativity, entrepreneurship and a focus on community rather than individual profit. Entrepreneurs involved in social pursuits are generally known as social entrepreneurs.
Social Enterprises are social mission driven organisations which apply market-based strategies to achieve a social purpose. The movement includes both non-profits that use business models to pursue their mission and for-profits whose primary purposes become more concerned with people.
“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” Nolan Bushnell
Their aim is to accomplish targets that are social, environmental as well as financial, which is often referred to as the ‘triple bottom line’. Many commercial businesses would consider themselves to have social objectives, but social enterprises are distinctive because their social or environmental purpose remains central to their operation, with a financial focus on their sustainability.
Rather than maximising shareholder value, the main aim of social enterprises is to generate profit to further their social and or environmental goals. This can be accomplished through a variety of ways and depends on the structure of the social enterprise.
The profit from a business could be used to support a social aim, such as funding the programming of a non-profit organisation. Moreover, a business could accomplish its social aim through its operation by employing individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds or lending to start-up businesses that have difficulty in securing investment from mainstream lenders.
Many non-profit organisations see social enterprise as a way to reduce their dependence on charitable donations and grants while others view the business itself as the vehicle for social change.
Whether structured as non-profits or for-profits, social enterprises are simply launched by social entrepreneurs who want to improve the common good and solve a social problem in a new, more lasting and effective way.
They are usually conceived and operated by visionary social entrepreneurs who recognise potential where others may not see it and who apply discipline, pragmatism, courage and creativity to pursue their solution in spite of all obstacles, toward the world that is more abundant, secure and inclusive for all.
Social entrepreneurs are individuals who pursue opportunities to create pattern-breaking change in inequitable systems, whether through social enterprises or other means. Many social entrepreneurs have launched their ideas within non-profits since that organisational form is already set up to advance social value.
“There are an increasing number of social entrepreneurs launching social purpose businesses by building a social or environmental mission into the DNA of their business”. Peter Sergeant
By contrast, social enterprise refers to an organisational movement that applies market-based strategies to achieve social change. The underlying motivation is a growing awareness that the scale of the problems we are facing today cannot be adequately solved by traditional means.
Strong businesses and non-profit organisations equal stronger communities
Facilitators can make a big impact at the local level by such things as:
- Building relationships and value chains.
- Advising on business structures to meet the wants and needs.
- Changing attitudes towards building sustainable communities.
- Helping the businesses and the communities in identifying priorities.
- Assisting the businesses and non-profits to identify new opportunities.
- Fostering start-ups and job creation as a key to stronger communities.
- Developing social, economic and environmental assets.
- Developing partners whose interests are aligned.
- Bringing new and collective resources to the communities.
[read more=”Personal Experience” less=”Personal Experience”]
I see advisors and facilitators helping to create the necessary awareness, encouragement and motivation to bring about changes that will link the businesses and non-profits to community strengths. Thereby solving more of a community’s social problems, frustrations, wants and needs.
Today almost all the growth in employment is coming from small, medium and micro enterprises, while corporations have been consistently reducing employment.
Businesses can play a pivotal role in encouraging and helping people in the community to start and improve the community’s small business sector and thereby improve the employment prospects and well-being of the community.