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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Social Entrepreneurship 102: What is a social enterprise?

This year, WCA plans to share the process of developing a social enterprise, and exciting tools and resources all you feministas and bosschiques need if you wanted to start your own nonprofit or if you are interested in adding a nonprofit entity to your business.  Back by popular demand is our social enterprise series. The purpose of this series is simple, to educate and provide tools to young women who are interested in jumpstarting their social enterprises in Africa and in the Diaspora. We hope you find our posts helpful this year. This year we plan to share information on how to develop your social enterprise, key tools you need to strengthen it, and many more goodies.

For our first issue of this topic we wanted to define social enterprise the way WCA defines it, and provide examples to our readers who this may be of use to. The word social enterprise has become the new buzz word. Many use it with clarity and others are still trying to figure out how it best suits their needs. Many times young women ask me what is the difference between social enterprises, businesses and nonprofits. 

So what exactly is a social enterprise? A social enterprise in the WCA definition is a nonprofit with a revenue yielding entity that has innovative models of solving  problems in their communities. In addition, a social enterprise can also be one that has a business generating revenue stream. A lot of times people think because you own a non profit you cannot be generate money. This is not exactly true. The key difference between a social enterprise and a regular non profit is that it is innovative and has a revenue generating entity, and the key difference between a social enteprise and a business is that a business may not necesssarily have the approach of wanting to help the community. So you can think of a social enterprise model as the best of both worlds! 

Now to discuss the various types of social enterprises. There are many ways you can do non for profit work but have a generating revenue stream that is not just focused on donor funding. Lets create a case study for me to illustrate the point. Let's say you own a girls empowerment organization and the main goal is to empower girls through a scholarship fund in African countries. Let's say you do some fundraising for in kind donations but want to find other means to generate revenue. If the organization decides they want to sell tshirts designed specifically to fundraise that is a business generating revenue stream. 

A business can also have a social enterprise angle. For example a restaurant in the community provides once a month feeding to the homeless in the community, or guinness providing farming tools to farmers in a region they work in, or a diamond mining company building schools for girls in a community they work in. Regardless of what the social enterprise is it has a nonprofit/for profit approach with innovation and the bottom line being to help society.

We hope you found this helpful! For many more tips on what a social enterprise is you can feel free to drop us a note or send us an email. 

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