What is Social Enterprise*?
Made for Freedom is proud to be part a growing, global, social enterprise movement. Businesses are awakening to the notion that a company can be passionate about both social good and profit. This way of doing business creates sustainable, positive change in communities around the globe. While many definitions exist, at its core, a social enterprise seeks to achieve societal good as a business through their products and services or through the numbers of disadvantaged people they employ. The social mission guides the business decisions just as much as the desire to be profitable.
Why do we need Social Enterprises?
Modern hyper-capitalistic business models and priorities have helped to create and maintain cycles of poverty and income inequality in developing countries. In an effort to keep prices low, companies routinely pay the lowest wage legally allowed. In many countries, this wage is below a living wage. The lack of economic opportunity, access to basic services, and living wages make these populations more vulnerable to exploitation. This is particularly true for women and children. This is where a social enterprise such as Made for Freedom can make a measurable difference in the lives of vulnerable populations.
How Does Made for Freedom Help?
As a social enterprise, we define success in terms of social impact and financial returns. We measure our success in two ways.
- First, we measure the degree to which our efforts result in positive social impact within the communities and countries in which we operate. The majority of that impact has to do with our carefully chosen supply chain.
- All our products are sourced from centers that pay a living wage or better, and all employ those vulnerable to sex-trafficking; many employ survivors. These centers embody dignified employment by being a safe work environment with reasonable hours, good training, and living wages.
- Paying a living wage allows women to provide for themselves and their families.
When women are empowered, families and entire communities are changed for the better. Additionally, girls are then more likely to attend school longer and to get married later in life, trends proven to foster economic development.
- Second, we also measure success by the level of financial return.
- Every business needs to make a profit to grow. The more we are able to grow, the more orders we can place and thus provide dignified employment for more women having a greater impact on communities and the success of women.
- We believe so much in the power of education to improve women’s opportunities that we give 20% back to organizations that provide such empowerment.
Why a social enterprise and not a non-profit?
Research suggests that to achieve lasting change, both nonprofit and social enterprises will be needed. As with most global issues, human-trafficking and extreme poverty are multifaceted problems and take a multifaceted solution. Access to education and dignified employment are crucial keys to empowering women. We believe that empowering women to determine their own destinies and provide for themselves will change the world. Research shows that empowering women raises the livelihood of their communities and the country as a whole. Capitalism is powerful and helping people is essential. Thus, a social enterprise takes the best of both of those concepts and puts them to work. It is a privilege to be a part of making a real difference in the lives of women worldwide.
How much could the world change if all businesses became social enterprises? We hope it is the future of business.
As a member of the Made for Freedom community you are apart of that change. Thank you, because we couldn't do it without you!
*Social enterprises apply business principles and practices to achieve social good. They reinvest their financial returns into the community to further their social purpose, to create employment and/or other economic and social benefits for marginalized communities. - See more at: http://www.nesst.org/social-enterprise/#sthash.amFuCJ25.dpuf