What Is Social Enterprise?
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
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A friend and reader recently asked me what status does Windermere Sun come under, “Is it for profit or non-profit?”. I paused and searched in my memory bank and responded, “Social Enterprise”. Windermere Sun is really neither non-profit nor for-profit because non-profit status would have required too much money to start (thousands of dollars just on paper work and red tape alone, in addition to the requirement of 5+ members on the board, which would translate to more time consumed for meetings and reaching consensus.) and yet Windermere Sun is not solely driven by profit, for much of its coverage is motivated by promoting community activities, businesses, and collaborations for healthy, happy, and sustainable living. The goal of Windermere Sun is to enable the successful establishment and maintenance of as many small businesses as possible by providing information, opportunities to connect and collaborate, and promotion via advertising spaces at www.WindermereSun.com and its various social and neighborhood networks.
Let’s take a look at wikipedia’s definition of Social Enterprise (in italics): A social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being—this may include maximizing social impact alongside profits for external shareholders. Social enterprises can be structured as a for-profit or non-profit, and may take the form (depending in which country the entity exists and the legal forms available) of a co-operative, mutual organization, a disregarded entity, a social business, a benefit corporation, a community interest company or a charity organization. They can also take more conventional structures. What differentiates social enterprises is that their social mission is as core to their success as any potential profit. Social enterprises differ in that their commitment to impact is central to the mission of the business. Some may not aim to offer any benefit to their investors, except where they believe that doing so will ultimately further their capacity to realize their social and environmental goals, although there is a huge amount of variation in forms and activities. The term has a mixed and contested heritage due to its philanthropic roots in the United States, and cooperative roots in the United Kingdom, European Union and Asia. In the US, the term is associated with ‘doing charity by doing trade’, rather than ‘doing charity while doing trade’. In other countries, there is a much stronger emphasis on community organising and democratic control of capital and mutual principles, rather than philanthropy. In recent years, there has been a rise in the concept of social purpose businesses which pursue social responsibility directly, or raise funds for charitable projects.
Even though social enterprise has been around for more than 100 years, it is a relatively new and growing sector in the U.S. For example, the Goodwill Industries initiated the notion of “a hand up, not a handout” in 1902 when they began employing the poor to mend and repair used goods which were then resold to the general public or provided for free back to the poor. To this day, Goodwill Industries International aims to put social good at the center of their business model. As indicated in one of Jim Gibbons articles in Harvard Business Review many years ago: in any social enterprise, it is important to remember not to start with an “ask”. Many customers who shop at and donate to Goodwill stores may not even know that they are supporting a social enterprise. Goodwill started with a local service that addressed a need, where to donate used goods and where to find affordable used goods, and transform the value of these transactions into verifiable social impact for the local community. Each local Goodwill designs their own programs to help to meet the needs of the job-seekers in their community. Not only had Goodwill created jobs for local people, but also diverting two billion pounds of goods from landfills each year. Goodwill accomplish these tasks by committing to three goals: 1. Empowering individuals in the community it serves; 2. Ensuring a self-sustaining community enterprise; 3. Having a positive impact on the environment.
In this day and age, there are plenty of opportunities for business leaders to apply entrepreneurial spirit and problem-solving skills to various societal problems or needs. By using our current day technological tools readily at their disposal, these current and future business leaders can ensure that social enterprise or social entrepreneurship is not just a passing trend, but a movement that will make a significant impact on a large scale.
Case in point, I see the need in these areas below:
- With dramatic price drop in cost of solar, large scale of building conversions to solar in various sectors are needed to reduce the cost of operating various organizations.
- As our society is transitioning into Clean/Renewable Energy Age, there will be lots of businesses in the area of Clean/Solar/Renewable Energy that did not exist before.
- As baby boomers retire, there have been and will be more and more people considering either to move down to FL or spend half of the year in FL (as snowbirds) due to Florida’s wonderful climate and zero-state income state status. This means real estate and construction boom in FL, translating to need of many many projects or real estate activities in FL.
- As people become more disillusioned with the educational system, more parents are looking into private education for their children. So, one would anticipate more private schools will be in greater demand, translating into more private schools will be built throughout the country.
- As our aging population increase, there will be greater need to provide senior communities (independent, assisted care, and memory care) where not only the basic meal plan-cleaning-laundering services are provided, but also stimulating activities such as learning, gaming, theaters/movies, shopping, gyms (from group activities to personal training), beauty salon, travels/tours (of various levels from basic group tours to high end elite private tours), outings and clubs (restaurant visits for foodies to literary book clubs or quilt clubs, etc.) at various communities, esp. that of FL.
- As more senior communities in 4. are needed, I also see a great need for senior communities specifically for Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans due to language and cultural needs. Elderly whose first native language were not English, as they age, will have greater tendency to rely more and more on their native tongues as they age. So, senior communities that would be able to meet these specific language and/or cultural needs will be springing up every where.
- Community Centers that would help to meet the needs of specific cultural groups, such as Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, etc. for activities and information that would benefit all age groups, will be extremely helpful for the community.
- If you see a need in your community, then come up with a plan and idea and develop it fully. Know your numbers. Be willing to commit yourself to this project or business and be able to come up with at least 5 -10% of the finance of the project.
If you are a professional near retirement age and is equipped with entrepreneurial spirit, I highly recommend that you look into some of these areas above and consider developing a plan, figuring and estimating all potential costs involved in your project or business idea. If you are willing to commit to at least 5% of the cost of the project or business, I will try to connect you with potential investors or lenders who may be able to assist you to accomplish your social enterprise. If you are a potential investors or lenders looking to invest in sound social enterprises that may benefit various communities while growing sustainably or with a profit, please also feel free to contact me. I will try to connect you with project developers of various enterprises. So, project developers and potential investors or lenders, please feel free to contact me via: [email protected] and we’ll try to enable these dreams to become reality.
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~Let’s Help One Another~
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