This is truly the best time in history to be an entrepreneur. Things that would have cost governments and businesses millions of dollars just ten years ago, can now be done better by a solopreneur with a budget of under $5,000. At the same time, there are a variety of social enterprise business models designed to impact people, profit and planet.
This dramatic shift in the world has eliminated all kinds of barriers and opened up a global marketplace for anyone with a laptop and a cellphone. But the real buzz in the business world these days is about using business as the most powerful force in the world for social good. While other institutions such as government, education and religion are also powerful change agents, they simply do not have the ability of business to create truly innovative progress. Because resources are plentiful, decisions can be made quickly and competition is so fierce, businesses are far more poised to innovate at a rapid pace than the aforementioned organizations.
Couple these abilities with the newer, better way of doing business that puts people and planet right alongside profits, and you have a global game changer the likes of which we’ve never seen. This new business philosophy is truly a chance for entrepreneurs all over the planet to build successful companies and make a significant difference at the same time.
Social Enterprise Business Models
I recently came across an excellent article written by Richard Branson in which he outlined the many different kinds of social enterprise examples. I have summarized them below for you:
Purpose Driven Businesses
A purpose driven business is one that makes a difference, but also a profit. A great example is MPESA. They started out bringing financial services to the poor and have now totally reinvented the finance industry in places like Kenya. 30% of the GDP there is carried over their network by over 17 million customers!
These are businesses that put all their profit back into scaling the response to the issue. Muhammad Yunus is really the grandfather of this model with Grameen Bank and over $13 billion in loans so far. Another great example of this type of business is Big Issue. They are a street newspaper released on four continents and distributed by homeless people.
Value Based Businesses
Value based businesses are profit making businesses that have the right people and planet values alongside profit at their core. The inspiration behind this type of model is simply building the right values into any business that we start. Many of the businesses we feature here fall into this category such as Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s.
Organizations set up to break down barriers and get capital flowing into new hybrid models. There are some real pioneers in this area such as Acumen and Root Capital. Richard Branson is also a big fan of The Carbon War Room which is making excellent progress in several industries such as shipping.
So what are you doing to align your life with the social business revolution? Share your thoughts, ideas and visions in the comments below!