As the global community geared up to celebrate the Social Enterprise Day, on November 16th, 2023, it’s crucial to delve into the practical aspects of running a social enterprise and explore how these business model not only create products or services but foster positive change in communities.
The Social Enterprise Day is the third Thursday in November and is part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. It is a day to raise awareness of social enterprises who are businesses trading for a social or environmental mission. A social enterprise must have the three components all in one: Solving a social problem, innovatively with a business mindset for sustainability.
In Business, when the Heart connects with the Head, then social entrepreneurship is birthed. Social entrepreneurship blends business thinking with social purpose and overcome some of the constraints facing organizations that solely rely on grants. Social enterprises require innovative approaches to solving perceived problems. This is a new business model within the social sector. Social enterprises are created with the aim of applying entrepreneurial skills and innovations to solving social problems. (Alberto, 2014).
Social enterprises not being a new concept, it has changed with the times as surely as any commercial styled venture does. They work hard to support themselves through non-government and non-state supported means, they aren’t aiming to put a further burden on the communities they aim to support, and thus largely fund themselves independently. However, they distinguish themselves by blending financial goals with a commitment to addressing societal challenges. This hybrid model attracts individuals driven by a purpose beyond profit, who envision a world where business is a force for good. Examples range from various sectors for example in the social entrepreneurship Forum run in Uganda, social enterprises are in agribusiness, health, education, renewable energy, fashion and design among others.
Social entrepreneurship signals the imperative to drive social change, and it is that potential payoff, with its lasting, transformational benefit to society, that sets the field and its practitioners apart. According to the World Population Prospects Report, the world population stands at 7.3 billion (UN 2017). With the growth in population, the demand to address social needs is also increasing and particularly problems such as inadequate education and healthcare systems, environmental threats, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, hunger and high crime rates. Approximately 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty (which forces them to live in environments without access to decent shelter, clean water or sanitation), 101 million children under the age of five are underweight, and more than a million people die from AIDS-related causes each year (Kickul & Lyons, 2016; Singh, 2016).
I will explore below six key tips to practically running a social enterprise.
Defining the change, you wish to see in the world. This mission becomes the guiding force, influencing every decision from product development to marketing strategy.
Remain focused on your “BIG WHY”: This implies build essentialism and ensure the team focuses on the vision.
Mindset shift: “Growth and Confirm don’t coexist”.
Cash flow is King/queen: The social enterprise must build a cash flow.
Create systems/foundations for your social enterprise: This will improve trust as you build win-win relationships.
Make and measure impact.
While profit remains a priority, social enterprises are equally committed to sustainable business practices. From sourcing ethically produced materials to minimizing carbon footprints, these businesses understand that long-term success goes hand-in-hand with environmental responsibility.
The most successful social enterprises are deeply embedded in the communities they serve. Engaging with local stakeholders ensures that the business addresses real needs and has a lasting impact. This can involve collaborating with nonprofits, supporting local initiatives, or even involving community members in decision-making processes.
In conclusion, to practically run a social enterprise involves a delicate dance between profit and purpose. By defining a clear mission, measuring impact, embracing sustainability, engaging with communities, and navigating challenges with resilience, these businesses are proving that success can be measured not just in dollars, but in positive change for the world. Today we celebrate all social enterprises in the world and we deeply appreciate all the members of the social entrepreneurship forum in Uganda. Thank you for the passionate work and impacting the communities.
“If you are passionate about human kind and believe it, let’s do it, let us hold each other’s hand for social good” Dr Joyce Tamale (MBA, MPH, FCCA) Founder & CEO CSL