Social Enterprises refer to organizations that enhance human and environmental wellbeing through commercial strategies
Nepal is currently in the middle of a protracted political transition in which issues like social inclusion and gender equity are much talked about. At the same time, economic growth has been disappointing despite our political achievements. Clearly, we have been neglecting economic agenda. There are innumerable ways in which we can better address our economic issues, including through Social Entrepreneurship.
Social Entrepreneurship is an emerging global trend and refers to organizations that enhance human as well as environmental wellbeing through commercial strategies. Social Enterprises are also concerned with products and services, but they are specifically aimed at creating jobs for the poor and improving their standard of life. Social Entrepreneurship is an effective way to leverage entrepreneurial principles to address social and environmental challenges, as consumers and shareholders increasingly want their organizations to incorporate social as well as environmental issues in their business models and value chains.
Research shows that consumers these days happily switch to brands associated with good causes. Our private sector can gain from this fact.
More importantly, Social Entrepreneurship has a special meaning for countries like Nepal where scarce resources are forcing both leaders and organizations to find ways in which the marketplace can be used to improve the lives of their people. Social Entrepreneurship is hence a sector that is of equal interest to the government, the business sector and the civil society organizations.
For us to benefit from Social Entrepreneurship, we need to explore and learn from global trends on how Social Entrepreneurship helps development. The ‘business model’ attribute of Social Entrepreneurship contributes to sustainable development that is beyond the typical donor-funded social and welfare projects.
Social Enterprises could also empower women from rural or marginalized communities. An example of this is the Youth Women Social Entrepreneurship Development Program (YWSED), which focuses on development needs of women. Launched by the British Council in partnership with Diageo in India, it identifies women working in social enterprises that particularly support women and assist them to become ‘Master Trainers’. This is said to have been a huge success and as of March 2016, these Master Trainers had been able to train 4,000 young women social entrepreneurs in India.
In Nepal, Chhahari Services initiated by Women for Human Rights (WHR) is a fine example of Social Entrepreneurship empowering women. Chhahari Services employs single women in catering and conference-venue business.
Another example is Drishtee, a social enterprise in India that aims to empower rural female entrepreneurs. Drishtee hopes to make an impact in rural areas through micro-enterprises controlled by entrepreneurs, with a focus on women. Drishtee identifies potential entrepreneurs and trains them in specified skills. It is already succeeding in supporting a network of over 14,000 rural enterprises that cater to the needy and the less-privileged.
For rural small businesses and entrepreneurs with social missions also Social Enterprise model provides an enabling environment, enabling them to run viable businesses. In distressed economies in particular, businesses following Social Entrepreneurship model could grow market opportunities that may not otherwise exist.
Social Enterprises provide various benefits to businesses that face multiple social and environmental challenges. It helps organizations accomplish financial independence, improves their ability to achieve their goals and to make themselves more attractive for financial investment.
Another benefit of Social Enterprises is more reasonably-priced goods and services compared to the same services rendered by profit-making business.
Typically, with Social Enterprises, we see that their services are better suited to the needs of individuals as these services are designed in harmony with the environment.
There is growing consensus that Social Entrepreneurship is a powerful tool for social change and sustainable development. It truly does offer endless opportunities for poor countries like Nepal.
The author is associated with Geneva Global Inc. Views are personal