Enabling social enterprises to do greater good
By Sana Bagersh
Government and corporations can help build more resilient, compassionate economies by proactively supporting social enterprises who are usually smaller businesses that are passionately hell bent on building a better world. Whether they are non-profit or for-profit, these entities focused on services and solutions that solve social problems, help people and improve communities. So it’s a no brainer that amplifying them, whether by giving them your business or other incentives, increases their impact to do more good.
Advance your own institutional CSR and ESG goals by supporting social enterprises shouldn’t be a by the way kind of thing. Rather, it should be a concerted effort within your organization to achieve results through a focused strategy, a clear work plan and internal accountabilities that make sure it happens.
There are so many ways to facilitate the path for social enterprises. One obvious way is to unbundle large contracts so smaller social enterprises are able to participate, even as smaller components that fit into a larger project. Indeed, there could even be a special process where you buy certain goods through a ‘social tender’ that is only focused on social enterprises.
Another great way to progress your commitment to social impact is to actively simplify your institution’s RFP processes so that social enterprises, many of which have limited means, aren’t excluded because of burdensome procedures and financial barriers.
What if your organization was so committed, and wanted to ensure the success of your efforts towards social impact that it went as far as to assign an internal champion who not only actively supports these entities but also ensures they get an allocation of your goodwill?
Including social enterprises into your vendors pool and your supply chain can unlock great benefits that can demonstrate the company’s commitment to innovation and that can inspire new paths to human-centred creativity within your own work teams.
Working with social enterprises offers great local insight because many are small businesses that are strongly rooted in the communities they serve. They may be uniquely positioned to identify opportunities and tailor solutions to them. They may also have deeper insights into pressing business challenges through their deeper knowledge of the customer base.
Without question, broadening your vendor pool to social enterprises reduces your dependencies beyond the conventional suppliers, and the advantages of diversifying your supply chain include business risk mitigation and boosting business resilience.
The social enterprises you work with would have greater standing within their communities, and their reach in their communities could in turn help you attract business that leverages their values and connections. This would enhance your institution’s brand and reputation as a socially reponsible entity that supports the local economy, and that would in turn strengthen your standing among your vital stakeholders.