The Many Faces of Social Enterprise


All social enterprises have one thing in common:
they exist to solve a social or environmental problem through commercial means. But when it comes to exactly how each one
tackles those problems, it’s definitely not one size fits all. Let’s explore some of the different types
of business models that are out there! One of the most familiar types of social enterprise
is the Employment or Workforce Development business model. They provide meaningful work and empowerment
to a disadvantaged population – whether that be creating jobs for people with disability
or intentionally hiring ex-prisoners trying to rebuild their lives. One example we bet you’ve heard of dates
all the way back to 1902, the year Goodwill was founded. Edgar J. Helms wanted to provide a tangible
means to benefit the poor, immigrants, and the disabled in Boston. So how did Helms go about it? He collected used household goods and clothing
from wealthier residents of the city. He trained and hired those in need to mend
and repair the used goods, which were then either resold or given to the people who repaired
them. It’s been so successful that in 2017 alone,
Goodwill placed more than 288,000 people into employment and served more than 38.6 million
people in total. So it’s no wonder a lot of people associate
social enterprise with these kinds of work development programs, and there are a ton
of examples out there. But the promise of social enterprise doesn’t
stop there! There are so many other types, like the “Robin Hood,” which refers to social enterprises that redistribute their
resources and profits to support less marketable activities. So what does Robin Hood look like in action? One example is when an enterprise runs high-end
shops or restaurants and puts the profits into their chosen causes. Women’s Refuge out of New Zealand establishes
high-end recycled clothing boutique shops to act as their Robin Hood – known as Yellow
Belle, these shops’ profits support safe housing and a variety of services that Women’s
Refuge provides for women and children leaving domestic violence. Robin Hood’s not the only hero in the story
of social enterprise, though! There’s also a social enterprise business
model known as the “Regenerator.” Regenerators deliver a service or product
that contributes to regenerating the community or environment. One Regenerator worth knowing about is Guayaki,
a certified B corporation in California that imports yerba mate to create beverages for
sale. Guayaki’s vision is two-fold: to regenerate
ecosystems and create vibrant communities. They pay above market wages to locals in South
America to practice sustainable harvesting of yerba mate, reforesting the Amazon as they
go. Their goal by 2020? To restore up to 200,000 acres of rainforest
and create 1,000 living wage jobs while doing so. That leads us to a type of social enterprise
that benefits the environment. It’s known as “Waste to Value,” because
it includes refurbishing, recycling, and reselling items considered waste. If you’ve been following along with our
videos, you’ll remember that this is what MHD Enterprises does for used IT equipment. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! The possibilities of what a social enterprise
can be are truly limitless. Here at CiTTA, we support social enterprises
– no matter what form they take. What’s your social enterprise model? We’d love to hear from you!

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