The goal is for the business to eventually be self-sustaining, but in the early days, trade-offs are usually accepted with respect to financial return.
Increasingly investors and shareholders are starting to look for these things as part of a company’s business sustainability.
What does it take for these types of models to achieve scale?
This initiative is focused on enabling entrepreneurship in rural India and increasing awareness of the importance of hand-washing, with an end goal of reducing infant mortality.
Increasingly, the distinction between social enterprises and market innovators is going to be harder to make.
When larger societal issues are seen not as ‘charity cases’ but as actual market opportunities, the actions taken are automatically more scalable and viable over the long term.
Many of these organizations are creatively applying or re-combining technologies, and in doing so, they are eliminating trade-offs and producing dramatically better results for a lower cost.The Acumen Fund is a New York-based fund that looks for early-to-mid stage sustainable businesses in emerging markets and asks for a 0,000 to ,000,000 capital investment up front.They get these companies started up, and then at a certain point they say, “Okay, this business is on its way; we are not going to be involved in the next level of financing.” At this point, others get involved.The grass-roots citizen- powered movement plays a key role, as well.Everyday citizens now have the ability—through the Internet and social media—to get involved and take on big problems.For instance, if you’re going to sell hydroelectric power in an emerging market, how could community-based groups come into the picture?Are you leveraging different forms of capital, whether through not-for-profit or international development networks? Increasingly, we are seeing corporations partner with civil society organizations, other businesses or international donors.Seattle’s Fare Start is a good example: this catering company and restaurant is staffed by cooks hired through a job placement program.It has flourished, supporting the delivery of more than five million meals to the disadvantaged.Safaricom extended its basic service offering to serve an unmet need, and while they didn’t set out to be a social enterprise per se, this initiative is providing significant social benefits to its users. The distinguishing feature, as in the case of Unilever and Safaricom, is the idea of embedding social good into your business strategy.You call these companies ‘multirational multinationals’. These companies take corporate social responsibility several steps beyond philanthropy in an effort to really understand their footprint in a community, in a country, and on a global basis, and how that can be addressed as part of their business strategy.