SOCIAL ENTERPRISES AND THE SDGs
The social enterprise sector is growing at a fast pace around the world, as more and more discover the beauty of this relatively new business model, which enables resolving a social or environmental challenge while generating profits.
What is a social enterprise?
Traditionally, such challenges were mostly tackled through humanitarian or environmental initiatives led by non-profit organisations and CSR programs implemented by for-profit organisations. Social enterprises combine the two worlds by driving both profit and purpose, thus they are at the intersection of traditional business models and non-profit institutions.
Generating a positive impact for all stakeholders is at the core of the business model of a social enterprise and ingrained in its mission, which is centred around value creation. Through social entrepreneurship, impact becomes more scalable as well as self-sustainable, as opposed to the non-profit sector which is reliant on grants, donations and volunteering work.
Innovation and social entrepreneurship
Innovation enables tackling global sustainability challenges, be it by altering current business as usual paradigms at an organisational level or by developing new business models. Social enterprises often have as foundation innovative approaches in solutioning social or environmental issues. These are based on the creation of new technologies, that address a wide spectrum of societal needs, from water and energy access, to social inequalities, poverty alleviation and financial inclusion.
Social enterprises and the SDGs
Social enterprises play a unique role in transforming the business ecosystem and accelerating the progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Goals such as ‘No poverty’, ‘Quality education’, ‘Gender equality’, ‘Decent work and economic growth’, ‘Reduced inequality’ can be addressed through such business models.
There are many examples in the region and beyond of social enterprises that have mapped their models to the Global Goals, in order to maximize their impact. Through the SDGs and the business indicators deriving from their targets, impact can be measured making it a strong business case for investors that seek not only financial returns, but also driving a positive change.