How to build a Social Enterprise

 

In last week’s blog, we detailed how a more globalized world and the new digital generation made talent management considerations wildly different from prior times. In the similar vein, there has been a rise in organizations that are conscious of their social mission, seeking to go beyond the profit-maximizing objective. It has been called “The Rise of the Social Enterprise”.

 

social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in financial, social and environmental well-being—this may include maximizing social impact alongside profits for external shareholders”

 

According to Wikipedia, social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in financial, social and environmental well-being—this may include maximizing social impact alongside profits for external shareholders.

It emphasizes that a business organization is an equal member in society and has a part to play in its progress. We are entering a paradigm which considers a business less as a “company” and more as an “institution,” integrated into the social fabric of society.

 

There has been some debate as to what can be classified as social enterprises, but what characterizes most are the core values that drive the direction of such business in that space. This blog speaks to how a social entrepreneur can approach building a social business.

 

Several social enterprises have been featured on the wisinomad Dialogue Series: Poa! Internet, a Nairobi based tech company seeking to improve internet access to low-income Africans and Financially Empowered, a financial consultancy firm with particular focus on improving financial literacy to women and girls. At their core, they share a desire to improve people’s livelihoods. This speaks to the first step in establishing a social enterprise. Why?

 

A social entrepreneur should be motivated by the desire to improve the world, by providing a service that provides better outcomes for its clientele, and society at-large. A further question to ask: How can I purpose this to be a profitable business? This is a major distinction from being an non-profit, which primarily gets external financing. Building a business model is key to the survival of any social enterprise, as this serves  to provide funding as a continuing entity.

 

Study the market and  the legal framework

And in global world it is important to be aware of what competing organizations have to offer, even in adjacent markets in order to provide a differentiated product. Similarly, it is important to examine what the legal considerations are. This has an impact as some legal structures restrict how businesses can operate, and taxation could impact profitability, and subsequently the ability for a business to operate.

 

Develop Measurables

Develop measurables on what the expected outcomes of each part of the business should produce.  Since the objective of a social enterprise is to provide better outcomes, define them, and make sure they should be attainable. This allows the entrepreneur to employ the right kind of resources with respect to capital and finding the right people.  

Find good partners

As Grace, alluded to in the Week 6 podcast, it is important to find partners who share similar values in the pursuit of of the social enterprise objective. Finding people who believe in your overall mission ensures that no conflicts of interest arise later on that could severely hamper the objective of the business.

Find good mentors

One added thing before you begin the journey is to find people or other organizations whom you look up to and would like to emulate. Seek them out as mentors on you journey and as partners in whatever form you feel best speaks to your aspirations.

 

To learn more about wisinomad program, visit www.wisinomad.com, and send in your application

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