Social entrepreneurs work to make change in society. While often the term social entrepreneur refers to not-for-profit organisations, there are a growing number of highly successful businesses that balance addressing a social problem and maintaining a sustainable, profitable organisation.
Leaving your mark on the world no longer needs to be driven solely by financial gain or philanthropic visions but rather our legacies can be carved by forging a niche in between the two. Business is the engine to do this effectively and it’s no longer business as usual.
For traditional, for-profit businesses the concept of “shared value” has become important aspect of social impact. Shared value guru Mark Kramer says incorporating shared value initiatives “gives business the unique capacity to lead social change”.
The big question is how do businesses do this? To create social change, businesses must work together to solve a common problem, communicate, measure results and monitor progress.
Here are three ways to do this:
1. People power
Small businesses make up 96 per cent of all business and employ more than 75 per cent of our Australian work force. They are a big deal and are a large framework for social change strategies. Together small business owners can use their powers for the greater good.
The main idea behind a partnership, or several, is to share your areas of skill and expertise – for example, knowledge and time – with an organisation or charity to create change, rather than just handing over money.
3. Media and communication
The media are a powerful force that can be used to showcase the work you are doing to drive change in society. It can help create more opportunities and leverage the market on a higher level and larger scale. It’s important to communicate your message on all media platforms to get the word out. There is nothing more compelling than word-of-mouth promotion.
Business owners can be innovators and visionaries. Our inaugural Rare Birds Conference has the biggest line up of female entrepreneur speakers ever seen in Australia, many of whom are creating waves in the social entrepreneurship scene and will share with you how you too can leave a legacy by doing the same.
• Join the Social Entrepreneurship Revolution Panel: with Rosie and Lucy Thomas, founders of PROJECT ROCKIT; Therese Kerr of The Divine Company; Kate Weiss from Table Of Plenty; Amanda Lear, Co-Founder and Managing Director of creative agency Gilimbaa; and Rosie O’Halloran, founder of foundations.(au).