Today, November 16 is #socialenterpriseday.
For real. We even got our own day on the calendar.
However, to be fair, so do Deviled Eggs and French Toast 😉
A lot of people get confused over what the heck a social enterprise is. Rightly so. It sounds complicated when you are unfamiliar with what it means.
Have you ever wondered what defines a social enterprise?
• Is it a business or a charity?
• Does it have to be about people or the environment?
• Does it mean you are selling something to make a profit?
• Does it mean you are doing something that is helping to make our world better?
The answer to all of those questions is, “Yes” 😃
According to the Centre for Social Enterprise, a social enterprise is a...
“...revenue-generating businesses with a twist. Whether operated by a non-profit organization or by a for-profit company, a social enterprise has two goals: to achieve social, cultural, community economic and/or environmental outcomes; and, to earn revenue.
On the surface, many social enterprises look, feel, and even operate like traditional businesses. But looking more deeply, one discovers the defining characteristics of the social enterprise: mission is at the centre of business, with income generation playing an important supporting role."
In plain English, it means that your business exists to make the world better in some way and that's your biggest marker for success.
Brave Soles is a social enterprise business. We believe that the world needs more businesses like ours.
Here's three reasons why we are proud to be a social enterprise:
1. Social enterprises are not the same as charity.
Charity is great (I helped to start one - clearly I am a fan!). However, running a legal charity means that you are not able to hold on to profits and you are limited in what you can do with the finances you generate. Social enterprise is exactly as it’s name implies: social change and enterprise (business).
2. Social ventures involve all kinds of business models.
There are so many amazing people and businesses in our world that are making a significant difference in the world simply by having the courage to think differently about how business and change can be done.
Social enterprise opens up opportunities that never before existed.
From giving rural Africans a pay-as-you go solar energy service to sustainable food production north of the Canadian Arctic Circle, social enterprises are asking brave questions and taking courageous steps to change how we think and do business.
3. Getting in on a Social enterprise takes guts.
Business is a scary place for many of us. Social venture startups are even scarier.
Those of us who are willing to stick our neck out on a social venture are often living in a conflicting relationship with our passion for change and our sanity level. We continually push the line for how much we are willing to go out on a limb for the sake of our belief in hope and change.
Sometimes we do it for the win and sometimes we fall off in a colossal crash.
But at least we are doing it. In the wise words of the great Jedi warrior, Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.”
Brave Soles is proud to be working with the Social Venture Zone at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, learning from inspiring business and social entrepreneurs that are further along the path.
We want to ask bigger, braver questions about what is possible with some love, strategy and creativity.
And we want to invite you to join us in the exciting journey.
Your purchases, support and encouragement are what makes crazy ideas into new pathways of thinking, shopping and living for all of us.
The world is changing.
The past few years have shown us how cruel humanity can be when fuelled by hatred and greed.
But when you peek into the world of social enterprises, you will be inspired by how much change can also be fuelled by a desire to create a more equitable and sustainable world for us to all share.
And yes, that definitely deserves its own day on the calendar!
(All photos by Cajun Paradis)