The rise of social enterprise
Transform your business into a profitable powerhouse for the greater global good
Imagine for a moment that you own a coffee shop. As part of your consumer marketing strategy, you source the best beans from around the planet, taking great care to find fair-trade, organically certified varieties. Customers clamor for your coffee as a result and you prosper financially. Yet instead of gauging your success by mere profits or shareholder satisfaction, your primary measure of what makes a blockbuster business is helping the farms that supply your operations halfway around the world. That is your bottom line—the quality of life for those farmers, ensuring they are able to trade in fair-market conditions and can adhere to sustainable, environmentally-friendly growing and harvesting methods. (The bottom line is still your profit. Quality of life for those farmers needs to be tied to a―sustainable business model before it can be tied to sustainable farming.)
The above example, more or less, describes social enterprise:
creating profitable businesses that enhance the quality of life for those in need through conservation and respect for global cultures.
The concept is not entirely new, having been the focus of leadership initiatives from respected universities such as Harvard and Cornell for well over a decade. A growing legion of business luminaries gather at international assemblies such as the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship and the Social Enterprise World Forum. Additionally, social entrepreneurs have gained media traction over the last few years, particularly with the advent of microlending and microfinancing in third-world countries through noteworthy lenders including Kiva.org and Grameen Bank.
Social enterprises may collaborate with governments and NGOs alike as well as NPOs/NPGs to establish market presence for certain goods and services. It is important to understand that in most cases, social enterprises are for-profit ventures. Also, what defines such enterprises can vary from market to market depending on regulatory conditions. Furthermore, social entrepreneurs are classified as innovators, able to bring forth creative, inventive and original offerings to market with the intent of reshaping society. How can you become a socially-mined business, or steer into that direction? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Do I truly have it in me to (re)focus my business on advancing social causes, including the fortitude to overcome hurdles that may lay ahead?
Am I a “change agent” in the real sense of the term, and if so, am I confident that sharing my ideas and innovations will create massive change for the good of the planet?
Can I market my social enterprise in a way that inspires, engages and alters behaviors for the better?
As of March 2016, the “Rock Your Business” ebook is still available for download from the MarketingInProgress.com website.