From the industrial age to the tech boom certain industries throughout time have managed to positively impact societies. For example, organizations like Goodwill and Grameen Bank have created opportunities and encouraged growth in sectors where investment used to be scarce. Today, social enterprise brands like Toms Shoes and Kind Bar have become household names. These companies have created a growing demand for cause-driven businesses that value social good as well as profit maximization. These companies are known as social enterprises.
So what is a social enterprise? A social enterprise (SE) is an organization that meets at the cross section of economic gain and societal solutions. Whether operated by a non-profit or for-profit organization, a SE has two main goals: (1) financial sustainability and (2) positively impacting the situation of a targeted community. The social impact on the community is not just a consequence or a side-effect of the economic activity but it is the key motive of the latter
“Social entrepreneurship, we believe, is as vital to the progress of societies as is entrepreneurship to the progress of economies, and it merits more rigorous, serious attention than it has attracted so far.” ( Social entrepreneurship: The case for definition ). Today, social entrepreneurship and responsibility is the next step towards a more balanced world where manufacturing goods is a wholistic approach and provide fair job opportunities, environmentally conscious products, and meet consumers’ needs. Now, more than ever it is paramount that corporations and governments take into account the social costs and benefits of their decisions.
Contrary to a For-Profit enterprise where performance is measured using business metrics like profit, revenues, and increases in stock prices. A SE measures its performance with sustainability, social impact and the level of problem-solving attained.
A SE is not a benefit corporation, non-profit, or corporate social responsibility (CSR) entity. Though SEs are modifiable and rapidly rising in popularity, they do not have the established exposure and recognition that regular enterprises have. As such, it is hard to generate as much profit and consumer loyalty as a traditional corporation. Thus, the key to the success of a SE is educating enough people on one issue pertaining to one industry important to them. This consumer education has the potential to transform the whole targeted industry. Through this method, one by one, industries will transform until the whole supply chain and manufacturing process is refurbished worldwide.
734 Coffee is the for-profit arm of the Humanity Helping Sudan Project (HHSP). Just like most NGOs, HHSP originally used donations to fund its operation. However, about 3 years ago, we introduced 734 Coffee which is our SE engine. 734 Coffee is focused on generating sustainable income for our projects’ needs. Like renewable energy, profits generated by 734 Coffee allows us to carry out our mission through a viable and independent business model. In this way we do not solely rely on unpredictable donations and grants. This certainty of funding allows us to create a vision and carry it out with confidence. Supporting a social enterprise is more than conscious spending, it’s a lifestyle and a commitment to empower, impact, and better lives of others.