A Guide to Getting Involved in Social Enterprises

Most social enterprises operate with the sole purpose of generating income and creating value for society.

As a rule of thumb, the solutions and service they provide should be unique, environmentally friendly, people friendly, and innovative. Cost-effectiveness is another huge consideration.

While each one of these things presents a challenge to social enterprise sustainability, those enterprises that scale them are the ones that are going to have a lasting impact.

These are the enterprises that will be advantageous to the environment, people, and the society at large.

HOW TO START A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

Social enterprises mainly deal with people living at the very bottom of the pyramid, which means that they are the ones who are most likely to benefit from the former.

In simpler terms, social enterprises help the poor mostly by providing them with a means of livelihood.

Since these enterprises don’t work the way typical corporate or private firms do, they offer a more flexible work environment, which is how many people groups like to operate.

This employment may either be long term or short term in nature, or could target a specific geographic community, people with disabilities, or workgroup.

SEWA or Self Employed Women’s Association, for instance, offer various kinds and levels of assistance to self-employed poor women. Here are some other great social enterprise examples.

There are benefits of a social enterprise that are entrepreneur-specific like:

» They make it easy for social entrepreneurs to raise capital and the government offers significant incentives and schemes.

As the investment industry is ethical under this option, it’s easier for entrepreneurs to raise money at below the market rates.

» Promotion and marketing for such organizations are relatively easy.

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Keeping in mind that one social problem is being solved with another solution, it’s easy to attract the attention of the media and people.

The amount of publicity you get will depend on your solution’s degree of uniqueness.

» It’s easier to get the support you need from like-minded people considering the social side of social enterprises. It’s also easier to get more people onboard at much lower salaries than in other industries.

In the same way, there are some advantages social enterprises offer that are specific to the people, environment, and society.

They include:

  • Services provided in different sections are customized to suit the needs of the problem or individual better.

In most cases, they are designed to be in harmony with other systems like the society, people or the environment.

  • Cost-effectiveness is another benefit social enterprises offer. The solutions an enterprise offers in the form of either a service or product are often more reasonable than the same service or product provided by a for-profit organization.

Because of such institutions, basic amenities like education and healthcare have now become more accessible and affordable to those who cannot afford them all around the world over.

Consider microfinance; for instance, most microfinance enterprises cater to the poorest.

  • While most major organizations have made corporate social responsibility a vital part of their business functioning, not many mean to make a difference.

To most of them, it is just a way of making more profits. Because of this, it’s essential to watch out for this and help and advocate enterprises that aim to add some value to the people around them and the environment.

What is Involved in a Social Enterprise

For the most part, social entrepreneurs are keen on changing the world, albeit a part of it; however, such dreams need to have a start. Every journey begins with a first step.

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Social enterprises often find their ventures or business to be fulfilling, worthwhile investments.

But the song is different for those that desire to start a social enterprise. The journey ahead often looks daunting for them.

The budding social entrepreneurs have numerous questions, and these are as many and the potential options available. Some of the questions asked include,

  1. how do I start writing a business plan let alone a budget?

  2. What legal structures should I pick and how is it different or better than the others?

  3. How can I preserve and keep to my social mission?

  4. How can it tell that I am headed in the right direction in my enterprise?

The above are just some of the frequently asked questions we get, hence the reason for teaming up with Social Enterprise UK to come up with this quick guide on ‘Starting Your Social Enterprise.’

It is our sincere hope that it will be a resource to you.

Also, we thought it would be nice to include some inspiring case studies of social enterprises who successfully navigated the process.

Hopefully, this will help show that things are not as daunting as you may think.

How to Start a Social Enterprise


  1. Have a clear mission

It will be essential in planning and knowing what you are striving to achieve.

  1. Know the market

You should know if what you’re proposing meets a need or solves a problem and who will be buying or interest in what you have to offer.

  1. Eye the money

Never lose sight of the money, that is how most businesses fail. Have a firm grip on it from the get-go.

  1. Measure your social impact

It is essential, but it has to be simple at the beginning with plenty of room for growth and improvement.

  1. Connect with the right people

Successful social entrepreneurs have a support team; it helps keep them from having to handle everything alone.

  1. Exercise good governance

Who do you want to partner with or involved? What are they bringing to the table?

  1. Sales and Marketing

These are the strategies you will employ to reach out to your target clients and win business. Therefore, invest in understanding your USP.

  1. Have a legal structure

You need to consider this vital aspect of running your enterprise, but after you have assessed and understood your mission, money, impact, and have good governance.

  1. Write a plan

It is vital. Keep it short, objective, and concise. It should not be far from reality.

  1. Network the enterprise

Get social, increase your outreach in the local and global social enterprise movement.

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