Do you have a desire to solve a social issue in the world, while gaining profit at the same time? If you answered yes, then you may be interested in the concept of social enterprise.
Defining Social Enterprise
A social enterprise is a business whose primary goal is to solve a social or environmental problem. These types of businesses are more concerned with making a social impact, rather than maximizing profits for shareholders. A social enterprise can be either a non-profit organization or a for-profit business. Yes, you read that correctly. You can contribute good to the world and still make money! Take a look at the following examples of for-profit social enterprises:
TOMS Shoes: this social enterprise uses the One-For-One business model. For every pair of shoes that are sold, another pair is donated to a child in need. Another example of a social enterprise that uses this model, is Blanket America, a company that provides blankets to those in need.
Grameen Bank: this social enterprise provides small loans to those who are in poverty without requiring the person to give collateral.
Rising Adults Academy: by offering life skills courses at an affordable price, Rising Adults Academy is able to provide all emerging adults, including those who are low-income, with the opportunity to learn the key skills needed to be a successful adult. Profits are used to produce more educational content for emerging adults and to pay employees a fair wage.
Social enterprises are becoming popular today, as more people, specifically young adults, are seeking purposeful careers—a job that’s going to make a positive difference in our society and environment. In fact, a study revealed that 94% of millennials reported that they wanted to use their skills to benefit a cause. Thirty-one-year-old owner of Rising Adults Academy, Angelique Hill, says that she fully supports the social enterprise concept.
“ When I was in the beginning phase of developing this business (Rising Adults Academy), I wasn’t sure if I needed to go the traditional non-profit route or for-profit route. I knew that I wanted to make a social impact, but I also wanted to be compensated for the work that I put in. I did some research and stumbled across the term “social enterprise”— I realized that it was the perfect blend. With this model, you can make a significant social impact, but also pay yourself and your employees while contributing back to your business, and I think that is so amazing. I’m definitely in full support of this new way of doing business, and I think more young people will get on board in the years to come.”
If you’re interested in starting your own social enterprise, here are some questions that you should ask yourself:
What is a social or environmental problem that I want to solve?
How do I plan to fill this void?
Can I run a sustainable business with my idea?
What resources will I need?
What are some of the challenges that I might face?
How do I plan to defeat those challenges?
These are just questions to get you thinking about building your own social enterprise; you can find more information here.
Think of how much better our world can be if more people decided to create businesses that contribute good to our society. Don't believe the myth that you can only make a social impact by starting a non-profit. You can have a self-sustaining business where you're fulfilling your purpose, helping humanity, and getting paid at the same time. If you're thinking about taking that step to creating a social enterprise, make a plan and go for it. It's never too late to change the world!