Social enterprises tend to operate with a purpose of creating value for the society and also generate income (if not wealth). As a thumb rule, the solutions they offer are supposed to be innovative, unique, people and environment friendly; Cost effectiveness is also a huge consideration. All of these are challenges to the sustainability of social enterprises, but the ones that are able to scale these are the ones that are able to create a huge impact! They are the enterprises that are advantageous to the society, people and the environment.
Since social enterprises typically deal with people who live at the bottom of the pyramid, therefore they are the ones who are benefited to benefit hugely from the former. In other words social enterprises are beneficial to the poor, generally by providing them with a means of livelihood.
Since social enterprises do not work typically the way corporate setups or private firms work, they offer flexible working environment which is as per the liking of many people groups. This employment may be both short term and long term in nature or it may specially targeted to a specific workgroup or a geographic community or to people with disabilities. Self Employed Womenâ€™s Association (SEWA), for example, offers various kinds of assistance to self employed poor women.
There are advantages of a social enterprise that are entrepreneur specific like:
Social entrepreneurs find it easier to raise capital. There are huge incentives and schemes from the government for the same. since the investment industry here is ethical, it is easier to raise capital at below market rates.
Marketing and promotion for these organisations is also very easy. Since a social problem is being tackled with a solution, it is easier to attract attention of the people and media. The degree of publicity often depends on the degree of uniqueness of the solution.
It is easier to garner support from likeminded individuals since there is a social side to the enterprise. It is also easier to get people onboard at lower salaries than compared to other industry.
Similarly there are advantages that are specific to the environment, society and the people concerned. Some of them are as under:
Services in whichever section they may be offered are customized better to suit the needs of the individual or the problem. This is also designed in harmony with all other systems like the environment, society or the people.
Cost effectiveness is another advantage of a social enterprise. The solutions offered by these organisations in the form of either products or services are reasonable than compared to the same service provided by a profit making organisation. No wonder basc amenities like healthcare, education etc have become very affordable to people world over with the help of these institutions. Micro finance, for example, today caters not to the poor but to the poorest!
Although lots of organisations have also made corporate social responsibility an integral part of their business functioning but not many actually mean to create a difference. It is just a means to achieve more profits; there is an increasing need to watch out for the same and help and advocate those who really aim to add value.