There’s not a whole lot of good news out there at the moment regarding civil society financing.
Social Entrepreneurship is an ideal opportunity for NGOs to increase their income; influence and impact by seeking an innovative funding option. It could mean more influence and income opportunities within the private sector as well as creating and maintaining more impact through implementation of the 17 SDGs.
With the world population projected at 9.9 billion by 2050(2020 World Population Data Sheet), social issues such as inadequate education and healthcare systems, environmental threats, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, hunger, high crime rates and political instabilities; and the need to address them will be relatively high.
The public sector is unable to address all the social needs and whereas the civil society has the passion to deliver for social good, it is largely challenged with limited access to alternative funding. At the same time, the private sector for profit pays much attention to the bottom line in order to meet its shareholder’s expectations, with very minimal attention to social needs.
Therefore, as a way of closing these challenges and in order to provide effective and efficient solutions to the challenges, The Social Entrepreneurship model may be the best way to solve problems that have existed for centuries.
But what exactly is the Social Entrepreneurship Model and how can it be embraced? What are the opportunities and challenges for our community? And what can NGOs do to make the most of this innovative approach?
According to the Capital Solution Research report 2020, Social Entrepreneurship is “engaging in entrepreneurial activities with social objectives to solve community most pressing problems meaning creating systems change”
We are at a turning point for the social sector, where funding is dwindling yet community challenges are at a rise. How do we then build sustainable solutions with limited funding?
Looking at alternative and innovative ways of doing business is the future and Social Entrepreneurship is a feasible solution to sustainable business growth in Africa.
Social entrepreneurship enables businesses to develop innovations that have the potential to solve community-based problems (Pomerantz, 2013). This implies doing business for the good and transformation of the society.
This approach views societal problems as opportunities which they can take on to establish new business ventures that benefit them and the general society as social entrepreneurs. As such, social entrepreneurs work towards getting profit while creating change by providing community value towards building a sustainable community (Capital Solution 2020).
Social Entrepreneurship brings long-term perspectives to businesses and is an important component of sustainability development structure (Korsgaard, Müller & Tanvig, 2015) since it reduces unemployment and increases the productivity of individuals and resources, and consequently increases the income of individuals in communities (Tousi, Ramadan, Jamshidi, Alireza, Taghdisi & Ahmad, 2014).
According to the Dec 2020 survey conducted in 38 countries by Ashoka, 99% of Social enterprises proved adaptable, innovative and Agile during the COVID-19 crisis. 50% of social enterprises changed their business models and 55% increased their online operations. This clearly shows how strategic it is to start a social enterprise as a form of business for sustainability. This is true since, the Social Entrepreneurship Forum in Uganda has over 200 members who are small and medium social enterprises, with the COVID-19 pandemic and how this has affected businesses, 90% of the social enterprises demonstrated resilience and offer innovative solutions to multiple economic, environmental and social problems while making profits.
However, most NGOs shun away from designing such models either because they are complicated or could draw their attention to making money and lose the social impact. I would like to attest to the fact that this is one of the best models for the social sector. Combining selling a product or service that is for social good is very sustainable. The impact this model creates is inelastic. I would recommend all NGOs to think of this model as it is the most applicable approach to creating sustainable organizations in Africa and beyond.
A charity dollar has one life – a social business dollar can be invested over and over again –Muhammad Yunus
The writer is the CEO Capital Solutions Ltd Dr Joyce N Tamale (FCCA)