Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Can a Big Business Learn from Social Enterprises?

The expertise and knowledge of social enterprises can be influential for a resilient economy. With the rate of unemployment expected to rise to 4 million by 2012, the importance of public intervention can’t be denied. Business organizations and economies all over the world need a new approach to equip people in local communities with means of distributing and creating employment and wealth. By supporting new business expansions in this sector, more green jobs can be generated to bring back wealth into the local communities. The key to success lies in having more value-driven organizations that are ethical and socially responsible.

Companies like Welsh Water, the Co-Operative and John Lewis have been initiating good work for years. Over 55,000 social enterprises in the UK are trading for social purposes, generating 27 billion pounds and employing 500,000 people. The profit generated by these enterprises is used for public benefit in the local community. Large business organizations can learn from social enterprises on ways to turn assets like industrial parks or retail outlets into productive ventures and reinvest the benefits by creating more wealth and jobs. One such example is the Coin Street Community Builders that was established in 1984 for preventing the eviction of local people along the river. It transformed 13 acres of London’s South Bank into a neighborhood with community space, housing, social services and businesses for the local community. They have continued reinvesting their profits to the community they are serving.

Not all successful business ventures can be created by the government. But it can provide the right conditions for enterprises to flourish. The present need is to recognize the significance of social enterprises and move it to the center stage of economic policies.

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