The business world is changing at a rapid pace and it’s beginning to focus on more than just finance as a bottom line. In fact, many businesses are working toward developing a triple bottom line. The triple bottom line is one of many business models working to increase social objectives into the workforce.
The triple bottom line includes finance, as all businesses must. However, it also includes social and environmental impacts as important aspects of the business plan. What does this mean exactly? It means that these companies are creating social objectives to become more sustainable, likeable, and accountable.
This modern social business movement is encouraging more and more start-ups to turn toward social entrepreneurship. Of course, balancing this piece of the business puzzle with revenue growth is essential. Fortunately, many modern companies are finding new and innovative ways to meet these social expectations.
Sandbox Centre is a local Ontario-based business in Barrie. We serve start-ups and small businesses in Central Ontario, seeking to expand or grow within their industries. By providing office space, test rooms, networking events, peer-to-peer opportunities, and several training initiatives, it’s our goal to enhance the local economy. As a team of business experts, we know a thing or two about social entrepreneurship and how it can impact companies for the better. Here we’ll break down the concept and explain it in a way any organization can relate to.
Defining Social Entrepreneurship
At first glance, social entrepreneurship sounds like it might be a small social media start-up, but it has little to do with communal sharing platforms. Instead, social entrepreneurship focuses on the development of new businesses with a strong emphasis on helping communities, employees, and people in general. As the name suggests, these businesses are socially responsible, implementing policies, procedures, products, and outreach to help others while still earning a profit as a company.
For-profit businesses striving to become a social enterprise are eligible to apply for B Corp Certification through B Labs. B Labs is a non-profit organization that honours successful social entrepreneurs with certification confirming their social impact on society. To achieve such an award, businesses must meet a series of criteria, all determined through an Impact Assessment. The impact Assessment scores out of 200, and social ventures must earn at least 80 points on questions about social, financial, and environmental productivity. B Corp companies are a perfect example of social entrepreneurship at its best.
Purpose of Setting and Achieving Social Goals
The purpose of social entrepreneurship stems from a modern need to help our communities and the planet grow and flourish. Businesses who focus on themselves and have only internal growth in mind can’t be sustainable, because the communities they live in may one day dry up and blow away.
A great and awful example of a business that wasn’t socially conscious is the automobile decline in Detroit, Michigan. A booming city centre boasting a population of more than 1.85 million in 1950’s saw numbers in the low 700,000’s by the early 2010’s. This was due, mainly, to the huge automobile manufacturing industry booming in the area. When the businesses that employed more than 296,000 people, decided to cut corners and save money by changing manufacturing protocols and moving oversea, the city witnessed a major financial crisis. People lost jobs, homes, and entire portions of the city became ghost towns. Fortunately, Detroit has a bustling population once more. However, this is a prime lesson in the power of the social economy and the impact we have on the communities we work in.
There is more to the pressing social needs of the modern business than simply keeping our communities employed, of course. It helps to be part of the community by donating, sponsoring, holding events, and showing neighbours your brand is relevant to the town.
Many factors go into becoming socially responsible, both locally and globally. The purpose of these efforts is to help the planet and help your business grow.
Examples of Social Entrepreneurship
Whether a business generates revenue with goods and services or by helping others, creating social goals is easier with good role models. With so many social problems facing Canada and the world, it’s nice to see big brands helping those around them. Some of these notable companies include:
TOMS by Blake Mycoskie
TOMS fast became an iconic form of footwear. Easy to slide on, available in multiple colours, comfortable, and oh yeah, did we mention they help the world? Blake Mycoskie built the TOMS brand after a trip to Argentina left him feeling sick over the number of shoeless people in the streets. The original TOMS concept invited consumers to buy a pair of shoes for themselves, and every time a pair was purchased, a pair would be sent to someone in need.
Now, TOMS does more than shoe the people of countries like Argentina. It also offers an intense social impact on the world by providing clean water projects, anti-bullying campaigns, and eyewear.
Terracycle by Tom Szaky
Tom Szaky is not only a social entrepreneur but an environmental entrepreneur as well. His business, Terracycle, creates fertilizer from worm excrement. Along with this product, which is now available through big box shops like Wal Mart, Terracycle creates new products out of garbage. The company then sells it and donates 2 cents for every item recycled. The brand has raised more than 3.2 million dollars.
New Leaf Paper by Jeff Mendelsohn
Paper products are a tough ecological problem to wrap your head around. We’re taught that using paper over plastic is beneficial to the environment, and yet the number of trees, forests, and ecosystems lost for paper is outrageous. Jeff Mendelsohn noticed this and noticed that more than 40% of the waste in American landfills was paper-based. To combat this issue, Mendelsohn began recycling wastepaper and designing card stock. The recycled paper is made using environmentally friendly bleach products and used in a variety of magazine projects.
These are only a few of the social entrepreneurs already making changes to our global economy, environment, and local communities. Helping people while still earning as a for-profit organization gives these companies the best of both worlds.
Benefits of Social Entrepreneurship
With so many pressing social issues in the world, it can feel daunting to think about trying to achieve a social goal. Fortunately, there are many benefits to setting out on a social mission. Here are a few of the major advantages social goals have on modern businesses:
- Sustainable – Some of the ways socially relevant businesses choose to make an impact include providing jobs to locals, investing in community projects, and creating internal opportunities for employees to learn and grow. Investing so much in the people who make your business a success guarantees a level of sustainability. Both by improving the community where head office lives and encouraging support from those around you.
- Unique – Socially responsible companies tend to be unique. From the innovative projects they choose to the businesses they partner with – investing in social entrepreneurship will set your business apart from local competitors within your industry.
- Improved Social Economy – The economy of the community you live in is important. By supporting it through hiring local, buying local, and using local companies to process, manufacture, and ship your products, you earn and those around you earn. In a way, your business is providing income for far more than the names on your payroll.
- Inspiring Others – One amazing thing about making a social impact is once others take notice they want to make an impact as well. Inspiring others to make a difference in the world means creating a world worth living in for future generations.
- Networking Opportunities – Many non-profit organizations and B Corp Certified companies partner together and network to share resources, ideas, and strategies. Becoming worthy of the title, “social entrepreneur”, earns you access to several events and professional development opportunities.
- The Likeability Factor – Socially conscious companies tend to be likeable by nature. The label of social entrepreneur almost comes with a built-in cape and superhero emblem. Whether your business focuses on saving the planet, the people or the economy, consumers and businesses alike will take notice. Being likeable earns you investors, invitations to special events, and numerous other advantages.
Of course, there are some risks to becoming a social entrepreneur, specifically money-related ones. The truth is, however, that the number of benefits you gain while becoming a social entrepreneur far outweigh the risks. Even if your business chooses to implement only one or two social goals, it helps the world around you. Every small change leads to a big impact and it’s high time more businesses got on board. We’re launching our B Corp Certification Program in May 2020! Check out our events page for more.
If you’ve been inspired to give social entrepreneurship a try, or you want to incorporate new socially responsible projects to your caseload, we can give you the information you need to get started. Sandbox Centre is located on the 2nd floor at 24 Maple Avenue in Barrie,Ontario and join the Sandbox community on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Keep an eye out on our events page for coming B Corp & Social Enterprise events. We’re partnered with SENCO an initiative of Georgian College’s Centre for Changemaking & Social Innovation (CCSI) who inspire, connect and equip those looking to engage in social enterprise to face cultural, environmental and social challenges in our region. Check out their events page for sessions like Social Enterprise 101 and screenings of the Social Shift movie.