What is Social Enterprise?
Social enterprises are social mission driven organizations which apply market-based strategies to achieve a social purpose. The movement includes both non-profits that use business models to pursue their mission and for-profits whose primary purposes are social. Their aim – to accomplish targets that are social and/or environmental as well as financial – is often referred to as the triple bottom line. Many commercial businesses would consider themselves to have social objectives, but social enterprises are distinctive because their social or environmental purpose remains central to their operation.
Rather than maximizing shareholder value, the main aim of social enterprises is to generate profit to further their social and or environmental goals. This can be accomplished through a variety of ways and depends on the structure of the social enterprise. The profit from a business could be used to support a social aim, such as funding the programming of a non-profit organization. Moreover, a business could accomplish its social aim through its operation by employing individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds or lending to micro-businesses that have difficulty in securing investment from mainstream lenders.
Harbor City Services, Inc. (HCS) achieves its social aim by creating a work environment that accommodates the needs of a disabled workforce without stifling their development. John Herron designed the company with mixed duties so managers can adjust the level of responsibility, customer contact, and schedule to meet employee recovery needs. Harbor City Services provides multiple complimentary services such as, records management, moving, shredding, and warehousing. These service lines allow our customers to use only the services that they need with the flexibility to change as their business needs change. Moreover the other customer (our employees) benefit from diverse employment opportunities ranging from manual labor to “thinking job i.e” non-manual labor.
“I recently attended a seminar on social enterprise geared towards training executive directors of small nonprofit organizations. Harbor City Services was singled out as the best model of social enterprise in the Washington DC area. The history and success of this organization impressed me immediately. I was piqued enough to make a visit to meet with John Herron, the founding director. What I saw and heard on site blew me away. I have been working in the grassroots service sector, overseas and in North America, for over a decade and have not seen an operation like this one. John not only has managed expertly to reach out to disadvantaged community members but has done the hard work of figuring out how to make it sustainable. As someone who fund raises for a nonprofit engaged in service work, I truly admire his ability to combine the two. But most impressive was the sheer attention and care that he provided for his staff an ongoing basis. He has created an atmosphere of genuine concern and support that offers a longer-term view of engagement.”
Dr. Losang Rabgey, Co-founder and Executive Director, www.machik.org
Social Enterprise Information and Articles
Social Enterprise Alliance Blogspot Website: SEA Blog
A Social Enterprise Model for Employment – Read the Harbor City Services Frontline Report: Click to Read Frontline Report
What is Social Enterprise?: Click for Social Enterprise Lexicon
Rethinking Profit in Non-Profit Organizations – Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurialism: Click to Read Article
Information about L3C
interSector Partners L3C: http://www.intersectorl3c.com
L3C & B Corporation Legislation Table: Click for Table
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