A new business model is needed to move forward towards a circular economy – a model that marries profit and inclusivity. Social enterprise has been looked upon as an entrepreneur’s way of trying to change the world and promote inclusivity. Being more than just a business trend, social entrepreneurship has caught momentum as a way to simultaneously manage a business and elevate the lives of others as well as the environment. Furthermore, technology made it possible for social enterprise to take off in a grand manner. This is because the Internet makes it easier and inexpensive to promote social enterprise, crowdfunding as well as microlending.
Everything begins with education. More and more universities play a prominent role in supporting and developing social enterprises. These academic institutions could develop, for example, bespoke academic social enterprise modules, internships in a social enterprise and guidance for students establishing their own social enterprise.
Social entrepreneurship requires perseverance and careful management of finances as well as passion. It’s a fine balance where too much of one thing can topple the balance as well as minimise the chances of one’s success as a social entrepreneur.
Keeping an eye on the bottom line of the business while being socially responsible is no mean feat. In fact, it has been admitted by many just how difficult it can be.
Sasibai Kimis, founder of Earth Heir commented that social entrepreneurship is a scary journey. They are not only answering to their clients but also to their beneficiaries. The first few years, he didn’t pay himself and lived on his savings. There were many times he wanted to give up but what kept him going is knowing that they are building something for the nation. All businesses in Malaysia should have a do-good component. Social entrepreneurship is a new model for businesses.
Naturally, nothing good comes easy. Although passion is good, but it alone cannot fuel a business.
According to Joycelyn Lee, long-time social entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Pit Stop Café in Kuala Lumpur, ‘You must be so flexible, nimble on your feet and you must have that blueprint of what you want to achieve. It is not just about passion. You must also have logic.’
UNLEASHING ITS POTENTIAL
It starts with education, and universities have an important role to play by instilling the benefits of social enterprises among students through their teaching.
As observed, there is a mismatch between universities and life of students, and that this is common in many developing countries. To develop university excellence, there need to be training centres to provide technological training among other required skills. Universities should first set the example of being a social enterprise itself and help to bridge this mismatch.
Governments should play a role in the sub-sectors and help to mainstream social entrepreneurship in the education system.
EXAMPLES OF COMMERCIALISING SOCIAL ENTERPRISES
Nurfarini Daing, co-founder of the Youth Trust Foundation in Malaysia, dedicates her time towards supporting youth projects that contributes to nation building. She pointed out that many social enterprise companies faced a social mission drift along the way because they weren’t ready. “It’s important that we’re aware of the balance between our social impact and the business return of investment. There is no real formula to finding this balance,” she said.
Jerryson Abraham Doss, co-founder of Viva Starfish Sdn Bhd in Malaysia, has helped millions of people in need of education. He believed that in order for social work to have an impact it must be continuous. He used to sell bottles of water to earn to help children in their education. He also mentioned that success comes with knowing how to manage your finances and the passion you have about your business. ‘Choose something that’s very close to your heart,’ he advised.
Anand Chowdhary is one of the youngest entrepreneurs. He founded Oswald Labs in 2016 and built a web tool to help people with dyslexia to read. ‘Someone told me how powerful the tool is, and that she used it for her kids and students,’ he said. So, he decided to drop out of school and worked on it, full time. Today, he offers it for free to the public but charges big corporations that can afford to pay.
Social entrepreneurship, though a tough road to travel on, brings deep satisfaction. It isn’t only the positive social impact which it creates but also the recognition for wanting to make a change while contributing to the economy.
Furthermore, in today’s economic climate, social entrepreneurship is the future of business. Therefore, the future of business is purpose.