What is a Social Enterprise?
Pretty much every day you hear news stories about things that are wrong with the world. People who have to drink water from dirty rivers. People working in unacceptable conditions. Animals being abused and neglected.
It seems like everywhere you turn, there are more and more problems to solve. You start to wonder, can one person really make a difference? Don’t you need money to solve the problems in the world?
The answer to both questions is, yes. Yes, one person can make a difference. And, yes, you need money to solve a lot of problems in the world.
The good news is that one person—almost ANY person who has passion and determination—can start a business that can change the world INCLUDING YOU.
It used to be that business was all just about making money. And charities were about helping solve the world’s problems but didn’t focus on making money. Many businesses didn’t really do much charity and many charities didn’t really do much business.
But did you know that there is a DIFFERENT kind of business called a social enterprise? It’s a business that is formed to help solve a problem in the community but is still a regular business that offers goods and services. A social enterprise blends the best of both worlds it’s a business that makes money but also solves a problem in the world.
How do you go about starting a social enterprise? Don’t you need a lot of business experience? Can a regular person really do this? Let’s see…
This is Amy. She is really concerned about the number of migrants who can’t read basic English. She is also concerned about the number of elderly people in her community who are alone and lonely.
Amy has a great idea to start a business that can fix these problems. A business that hires elderly people to teach basic reading skills to migrants. She knows that she needs to have some money in order to start the business, she needs “CAPITAL LITERACY”. “Capital” can mean money or things that Amy can use to start and run her business to make MORE money. Capital literacy will help Amy to understand, get, and use the different forms of capital she’ll need for the business.
Amy writes out a “BUSINESS PLAN” so that she can know how much capital she’s going to need for the money she expects in return for her service. For example, she needs some books and maybe a mini bus to take people to their lessons.
Amy finds a team of people willing to help with the business. For example she’ll need elderly reading teachers, people to help her promote the business, maybe even a bus driver.
Amy is now running a social enterprise.
Remember it starts with an idea to make a difference, a business plan, a team, and some determination.
How to Start a Social Enterprise
Do you have what it takes to be a social entrepreneur?
Do you have what it takes to be a social entrepreneur? A lot of people talk about the things they’d like to see changed in the world. But not everyone does it.
There are six things that social entrepreneurs have in common.
- They saw something wrong in the world and they got upset enough to want to solve the problem.
- Social entrepreneurs are really good at coming up with creative ways to solve problems. They understand that the problem still exists because the old way of doing things didn’t work.
- Social entrepreneurs are flexible and are willing to make changes to their plans so that they achieve their goals. It’s been said that 90% of successful businesses start out with the wrong business plan.
- Social entrepreneurs are really good at bringing different people who have different ideas, experiences, and skills together to form a team to create a new kind of business.
- They are not in it only for the money. Social entrepreneurs are not trying to become millionaires but trying to solve problems to improve the lives of millions of people. It’s about using a business to put right the problems in the society.
- Social entrepreneurs are excited about the difference they are making. They eat, breathe, and sleep their business. Their excitement gets other people excited to make a difference too.
So, social entrepreneurs identify problems in communities, think creatively, are not afraid of change, build teams, and stay committed ’til the identified problem is resolved.
Do you want to turn your skills and passion into a social enterprise? Here are some tips on how you can do good by doing what you love.
First, think about the problems in your community that bother you. Fixing one of the problems could just become the start of a social enterprise.
Then, do some investigation to find out what other people have tried to solve the problem. What worked? What didn’t? Can you improve on what others tried?
Next, you need a plan for the business. This is the part that seems very scary to people because they don’t know where to begin! Fortunately, there is a lot of help online and in communities for people who have a great idea and want to write a business plan.
Now it’s time to try out your idea. If you want to get other people to get involved in your business, it’s a good idea to show them that your idea works. This might mean making a simple example of your product or service to show how it works.
Then you need show it to the people who have what you need to start the business, this can be money or other resources. It may involve promoting your idea to earn the support of these people.
Remember, starting a social enterprise requires the same skills and has the same challenges as starting any other kind of business.
Turning your skills and passion into a social enterprise
Introduction to spiritual capital for social entrepreneurs.
Spiritual Capital – Video Animation Script
Give a man fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach him how to fish and you feed him for life.
Imagine a kind of business funding that arises out of the goodness of our spirit.
A capital we can gainfully use for the welfare of others.
Welcome to Spiritual Capital.
It’s not charity, it’s just a channel to provide livelihood to the needy.
A purely practical means to achieve nobler ends.
That’s how Spiritual Capital can create jobs, give homes to the homeless and even work for the environment.
Can Spiritual Capital help humanity?
By adding value to existing initiatives.
By applying business principles to social issues.
By converting entrepreneurs into social entrepreneurs.
And just as faith can move mountains, faith-based organisations can move governments to work with them for mutual good.
How does Spiritual Capital benefit our community, the nation and the world?
It promotes creativity – to do things differently.
It teaches to avoid waste – do more with less.
It mobilises human resources via religious centres.
It enables partnerships – two heads are better than one.
It celebrates diversity – we may be different, but we’re one as social entrepreneurs.
It can repeat proven business models – why reinvent the wheel?
It helps to boost the economy – religion can aid commerce.
And it can save the environment as a unified force. If the world’s 11 major religions account for 85% of its population, and this 5 billion strong force can have the same ‘eco-goal’, the world will be a much greener place.
But what’s one big challenge for Spiritual Capital?
Social entrepreneurs tend to get rigid – they need to be open minded to work with other faiths, or even the agnostics.
Ignore small details for the big picture, and dig deeper for the real treasures in our faith.
And where there’s faith, miracles happen.
With over 50,000 churches in the UK consisting of over 5 million potential spiritual capitalist, what a force this can be!
Let’s make it happen, together.
With Spiritual Capital.
Faith is taking the first step
even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King, Jr