Social enterprises are nonprofit businesses that create jobs as way of addressing social or environmental problems. They focus on improving the quality of life in neighborhoods underserved by government agencies or for-profit businesses. Many social enterprises operate on shoestring budgets, working out of dilapidated buildings and relying on used equipment so as to pour more resources and funding into various projects. Some, like Newman's Own, are nationally recognized businesses that contribute profits to charity.
There are many types of social enterprises, the most common being those that take on a specific issue or strive to meet the needs of a specific client. This might include providing free or low-cost items like food, clothing, furniture, appliances or home repairs. These businesses target individuals and families who are physically, culturally or financially disadvantaged.
Some social enterprises generate additional revenue for their causes or clients by utilizing extra space or equipment. They operate gift shops, convenience stores, parking lots and other businesses. Any resulting profits are donated to to charity or organizations supporting the social enterprise's particular issue.
A non-profit social enterprise occasionally forms a partnership with a for-profit business. These partnerships take on a variety of forms, but often include financial support from the for-profit business in exchange for advertising in the social enterprise's literature, or display and distribution of the company's products. Some businesses pay social enterprises to recruit local area workers for them.
Government agencies sometimes hire social enterprises to perform certain tasks, such as food distribution or neighborhood beautification projects.
For-benefit enterprises operate much like traditional social enterprises, existing as non-profit organizations focused on a specific purpose, but with a greater economic impact on the community. They create jobs, direct consumers to neighborhood businesses, and attempt to bring other businesses and government funding to the area.
Many social enterprises form alliances or coalitions, either among themselves or with community and religious organizations to help offset costs and bring additional attention to various problems. They often coordinate efforts to avoid competing for the same charitable donations and grants. One common technique is to approach businesses for a percentage of profits tied to the sale of a particular item, or for a set period of time, such as during the Christmas season. The social enterprise offers the business good press for their donation, while allowing them access to funds not previously set aside by the company for charity.
- Photo Credit Ed Yourdon: flickr
How to Start a Social Enterprise
Looking for opportunities to combine work with something that matters? Here's how to start a social enterprise to work on issues facing...
Definition of Social Performance Evaluation
Social performance is a major trend in the corporate world. Companies have realized that people are looking at them to have a...
Definition of Social Emotional Development
Social Emotional Development is the combination of learning diplomacy and truthfulness to interact with individuals or groups in a manner that contributes...
What Is the Meaning of Enterprising?
What is the meaning of enterprising when you are trying to compete in business? Someone who is enterprising is someone who can...
Definition of Social Groups
Although many people are not aware of it, social groups permeate society. They define roles and rules, and they give people a...
Definition of Social Responsibility in Business
Social responsibility is defined as a theory that obligates individuals and groups to act in a way that benefits the greater good...
Definition of E-Business Enterprise
The Internet revolutionized just about every facet of modern living, from entertainment to communication. Similarly, e-business changed the way companies operate and...
"Business Organization" Definition
There are several ways that a business can be organized to define its structure. The main types of business organizations in the...
Definition of a Double Bottom Line
It is common to hear a business person speak about the "bottom line" as an excuse for saying "no" to a possibility....
Definition of Quality of Life
The definition of quality of life is different for everyone. The main thing that determines quality of life is our ability to...