Essay Sample on Social Enterprise Project

Published: 2023-01-13
Essay Sample on Social Enterprise Project
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Budgeting Social work Business plan Social issue
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1712 words
15 min read

An enterprise denotes a business that is mainly geared to achieve profits from its everyday dealings. The term is also widely associated with entrepreneurs, given the nature of their profit-driven venturing. There are several types of enterprises, defined by their different characteristics and nature in which they are run. Each of them thus have a distinct element or elements that define it. The most common of these however are social and business enterprises. A social enterprise in this case is a business that works in the social economy, whereby profits are sought in the open market and re-invested back to the business or the community. As such, a social enterprises serves to both achieve profits and benefit the community at the same time. The primary objective however is the need to benefit the society. A business enterprise on the other hand is one that is primarily driven by the need to make profits for the shareholders involved ("SOCIAL ENTERPRISE POLICY LANDSCAPE IN BANGLADESH", 2019). In the project we identified the main elements of a social enterprise as well as the qualities that differentiate it from a business enterprise. Also, we identified an example of a social enterprise and analyzed its features and characteristics.

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Elements of a Social Enterprise.

One main defining element of a social enterprise is that the surpluses that result from the business are reinvested back to the community. They tackle issues that affect the environment and the challenges that face society. The enterprises have the potential to address unemployment in the community by creating jobs for the members. This can be done through both direct and indirect means, with the primary objective being to address challenges faced in the society by one means or another (Fitzgerald and Shephered, 2018).

The other main element of a social enterprise is the ability to be self-sustainable financially. This allows the business to run its operations seeking profits to expand its reach in the community (Fitzgerald and Shephered, 2018). The company is thus able to re-invest these profits back for the purpose of improving the community it is based. The surplus accrued assist the company to improve the products and services they offer to the community, therefore increasing its social impact.

Another major feature with social enterprises is that they modify commercial operations for the benefit of the community it is based in. For instance, the company could include the customers in the community as co-owners in the business allowing them to gain a share of the accrued financial surpluses. Alternatively, they could adopt strategies such as subsidizing their products and services for certain categories of their customers in an attempt to attain their social objectives. They also do not place legal restrictions on how the surplus gained from its operations are used all n the aim to assist the society and attain its goals (Fitzgerald and Shephered, 2018).

Differences between a social enterprise and a business enterprise.

There are several differences and similarities that exist between a social and business enterprise. For instance, though both are geared towards attaining a profit, social enterprises go beyond this target in that they aim to improve the status and welfare of the members of the community in which they are established (Ridley-Duff, 2008). This is the defining principle that differentiates normal business enterprises and those of a social nature. As such, they act as an alternative means to bear joint social responsibility in the community while at the same time benefiting the members involved. The social business also focuses on matters to do with the environment and cultural practices of the community (Barringer, 2015). This is unlike a business enterprise which in most occasions tend to ignore these aspects, even destroying them in an attempt to increase their profits. Due to the manner in which a social enterprise is run, the participants and stakeholders involved aim are more likely to formulate policies that drive responsible exploitation of the available resources in a manner that is beneficent to everyone (Fitzgerald and Shephered, 2018).

Business enterprises are primarily controlled and owned by the shareholders in the company. All the executive decisions are therefore made and unrolled by these shareholders, benefiting themselves sometimes at the expense of the society they operate. They, therefore, have limited or no positive contribution to the community besides their profit-driven initiatives (Gray, 2003). On the other hand, social enterprises have connections with the members of the community they are based in. As such, they tend to be people-centered and decisions pertaining to their everyday operations including their policies are designed and controlled by the members of the society. This ensures that the community interests are well catered for and the benefits accrued are beneficial to the entire society. Thus social cohesion is ensured and the welfare of the community improved from the activities of the social enterprise (Barringer, 2015).

Moreover, a business enterprise is in nature profit driven. This makes it liable to loses when the business goes wrong. Making losses, therefore, have a great impact on the running of the business enterprise, putting it at risk of being faced out due to the competition involved in the business environment. On the other hand, social enterprises mostly employ a nonprofit model and thus there is no loss-making that results from its operation. Alternatively, a social enterprise could be non-monetary in nature, giving it no room for loses (Nicholls, 2018). This is another major difference that defines or separates the two types of enterprises.

How social enterprises reinvest surpluses into their social objectives.

There are several ways in which a social enterprise could reinvest its surpluses into the social objectives and give back to the community it serves. One such strategy includes allocating the surpluses accrued to charity. The surplus thus finally ends up benefiting the community through other noble projects that can be undertaken through them, even without the benefactor knowing the source of the money. An example is reinvesting the surplus in educating needy children. As the organization grows, the surplus grows to increase its reach and capacity to assist these needy children in their education and health (Barringer, 2015).

Another way in which a social enterprise reinvests its surplus towards its social objectives is by donating a portion of its profits into social projects that are beneficial to the entire community while keeping the rest to reinvest in the business itself and keep expanding their capacity. Through this strategy, the business or company is able to contribute to society while at the same time sustaining itself financially. This is in line with the definition of a social enterprise as its primary purpose would be to assist the community by giving them a chance for collective responsibility for the society's wellbeing (Ridley-Duff, 2008).

Additionally, a social enterprise could reinvest the surplus back to their social objectives by providing job opportunities for the members of the community. This way, the company would not be directly assisting the involved members financially, but offer them a chance to be self-sufficient and independent (Nicholls, 2018). Such a strategy would be beneficial to the entire community as it reduces immoral vices such as prostitution and theft among others. By giving the involved personnel support and the boost needed to establish themselves and be independent, these immoral vices would be significantly reduced, making the community a better place to live ("SOCIAL ENTERPRISE POLICY LANDSCAPE IN BANGLADESH", 2019).

Another strategy that social enterprises use to reach out and improve the community is by offering spiritual support to the members. Through their operation, the enterprise makes a surplus that is reinvested back through projects that increase their reach to the community whilst spreading their spiritual objectives. These sometimes also go beyond simply spreading their spiritual practices and extend to initiatives that serve the less fortunate members of the society. Organizations such as those that operate soup kitchens and providing shelter for the homeless are perfect examples of such social enterprises (Barringer, 2015).

Also, the organization could choose to adopt a business model that restrains business margins to attain its social objectives. A social organization, for instance, could share the financial surpluses with its customers directly. This strategy is achieved by including them as co-owners in the business, giving them an opportunity to tap into the financial surplus gained from running the organization. The success of the company would thus be reliant on both the founders and the customer's ability to work together towards the specific social objective (Nicholls, 2018).

Greenvelope Company as a Social Enterprise

Greenvolope, the Washington based company founded by Sam Franklin is a good example of a social enterprise. The company offers users a way to send multiple wedding invitations and other personal cards online for a small one-time fee. Though its motive was to make a profit like any other business, the social objective was to enhance environmental sustainability through the reduction of actual paper waste (Barringer, 2015). Furthermore, the company reinvests its surplus through donations to charity every quarter of the year. Additionally, the company reveals that it made these donations even long before the company was making profits. This proves beyond doubt that the objectives were geared towards benefiting the entire community rather than just making a profit. Moreover, the company's emphasis on driving a change from the conventional methods of sending cards to an environmentally friendly alternative shows its commitment to promoting environmental sustainability. By giving the members of the community an opportunity to participate in the initiative to create a more sustainable environment, the company further demonstrates its commitment to the society in general. These strategies are in line with the definition of a social enterprise as we have discussed in the chapter (Barringer, 2015).


Barringer, B. R., & Ireland, R. D. (2015). Entrepreneurship: Successfully launching new ventures (5th ed.). Don Mills, Canada: Pearson Education Inc.

Fitzgerald, T., & Shepherd, D. (2018). Emerging structures for social enterprises within nonprofits: An institutional logics perspective. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 47(3), 474-492.

Gray, M., Healy, K., & Crofts, P. (2003). Social enterprise: is it the business of social work?. Australian Social Work, 56(2), 141-154.

Nicholls, A. (Ed.). (2008). Social entrepreneurship: New models of sustainable social change. OUP Oxford.

Ridley-Duff, R. (2008). Social enterprise as a socially rational business. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 14(5), 291-312.


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