What Is A Social Enterprise?

October 26, 2019

What Is A Social Enterprise?

It is quite challenging to describe a social enterprise in large part, and the reason is that the concept of Social Enterprise has been rising in popularity. 

The concept of a Social Enterprise has become so popular, it has started to blur the lines of a traditional business, many government, and non-profit sectors. 

A Social Enterprise Alliance can have the following basic working definition:

These are the organizations that address a basic unmet need or solve a social or environmental problem through an approach that is market-driven.

Let's take an example of a company that is working for a social cause, there is no profit, and the company relies on funds raised from outside. 

On the other hand, if that company takes certain measures to create a small scale business along side it, it will not only work for the good of a social cause, but also create a proper revenue stream.

This new revenue steam will in turn generate additional funds to help in solving that social cause, without needing to raise outside funding. 

Social enterprises have change the concept of traditional non-profit entities to profit entities, all while still doing the same things that a non-profit entity would.

There are three types of social enterprises according to social enterprise alliance.

Opportunity Employment: These are those organizations that take such people on board who have significant barriers to mainstream employment, such as RE+NEW+ALL Candle.

Transformative Products or Services: These are those organizations that tend to make a social or environmental impact with the help of innovative products and services, also similar to RE+NEW+ALL Candle.

Donate Back: These organizations are the ones that contribute a portion of their profits to nonprofits, and they also address the basic unmet needs of society.

These are the different types of social enterprises. It should also be kept in mind that social enterprises are not a solid or rapid solution that will ensure the eradication of a problem, however, they do give us a proper path towards a solution, and how a certain problem can be tackled with the help of a social enterprise.

A Social Enterprise can provide many benefits to a wide range of organizations in the effectiveness, and proper use of their resources. This is not only a benefit to the organizations, but to the social enterprise as well. 

Let's say, for a conventional non-profit organization, a social enterprise can prove to be a powerful complement to other activities which can advance the social mission as well as improve the financial sustainability of any organization.

For any new start-ups, both for nonprofits and for-profits, social enterprise gives entrepreneurs an ability to bring both social impact, as well as financial sustainability into the organization.

And for any conventional businesses,  an initiative of social enterprise will let the company integrate social impact into business operations and also prioritize social goals along with financial returns. (profit social enterprise)

So, Is Social Enterprise A New Thing?

Well, the answer could be both in terms of a yes and a no. How? Well, there have been different examples of social enterprises that can be dated back more than 100 years, but the social enterprise as a sector is relatively new since its activity in the U.S. and beyond is growing.

In recent years, social enterprise has turned out to be something more prominent because of the growing interest and attention from its investors, consumers, universities, media, and policymakers. It can be seen with the rise of “impact investing” and “conscious consumerism” which both are reflective of the development of social enterprise as a field.

One of the interesting and exciting aspects of the evolution of social enterprise is the ever-increasing variety of issues that are addressed by these enterprises.

These days, many social enterprises can be found correcting market failures across every industry, and also tackling many social challenges in almost every corner of the world.

An example of Grameen Bank can be taken, which makes small loans to low income areas for business development and other uses.

Greyston, a company that employs the homeless to create brownies in a bakery for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

TerraCycle upcycles packaging and other non-recyclable consumer waste to keep it out of landfills and turn it into new products.

Tens of thousands of such social enterprises are working on problems in society to make it a better place, along with gaining income sustainability.

Social Entrepreneurs:

Social entrepreneurs are those people who run social enterprises, or in other words, they are the people who work to solve critical social problems and talk about the basic unmet needs of society through innovation. 

To know more about social enterprise, one can easily visit the Social Enterprise Alliance which is the national membership organization for social enterprises in the United States.

We hope that this guide was helpful in letting you know about social enterprises like us, RE+NEW+ALL Candle.

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