Social enterprises apply commercial strategies to achieve improvements in human and environmental well-being in low income communities.
Social enterprises do this by offering products or services that fulfill specific needs in affordable ways or by empowering people to start businesses, providing access to funds, technology and entrepreneurial skills. A service not previously available to poor people can give them the opportunity to break out of poverty. Services include access to credit, a bank account, legal advice and other services that bridge financial, legal, cultural or other barriers. Initiatives like these can be funded through impact investment funds, funds that generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.
Ashoka was one of the first organisations to use the term social entrepreneurs. Founded in 1981 Ashkoa now operates in over 70 countries. One well-known social entrepreneur is Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank.
Social enterprises and impact investment, their successes and failures, bring useful experiences in creating value for future sustainable business.
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NEW MARKET OPPORTUNITIES
Corporations interested in the low income sector, can link up with social entrepreneurs; learning from their innovations or stimulating their own employees to give technical and entrepreneurial support.
Impact Lab is a UK-based, relatively new organization that provides corporate employees with opportunities to use their skills and knowledge to mentor social entrepreneurs.
There are also NGOs (non-governmental organizations), based in low income countries, that are introducing social entrepreneurship and training future social entrepreneurs. Gawad Kalinga, is one such NGO.
The tremendous progress in social development during the last 30 to 40 years laid the ground for the economic development and the Emerging Markets that we see today. To combat poverty in an efficient way, social and business sectors must work closely together, learn from the groundbraking experience made in social development and take it farther introducing positive business.