MIT's J-PAL LabOn a busy street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an unassuming brick building houses the North American headquarters of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). Inside MIT’s J-PAL Lab, researchers analyze the results of randomly-designed experiments and the generalizability of their findings. Their test subjects? Social programs.

J-PAL and its Research

Anti-poverty work can take many forms: vocational training, credit access, education and the list goes on. Programs of various types can be valuable and worth funding, but because donors and organizations have limited amounts of funding, the relevant question is often not whether to support anti-poverty work, but how to support it. What programs are making the biggest difference? Where will a donation do the most good?

J-PAL co-founder Abhijit Banerjee puts it best in an interview with The Wire: “you have to basically focus on: where is the lever? That’s what we do, try to help find the lever, and then if you push the lever you go fast. But what [policy-makers] do is often… just hit everything and then some things hit the lever, some things hit the wall.” The strategy of “hitting anything” is certainly not useless, but to maximize impact, a person should concentrate on the mechanisms that maximize impact. J-PAL’s work is in locating the policy levers that will make a difference and encouraging policy-makers to use them.

MIT professors Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan founded J-PAL in 2003 and it has grown quickly. As of 2019, J-PAL has a network of 181 affiliated professors around the world. A truly global organization, J-PAL has offices in Capetown, South Africa; Paris, France; Santiago, Chile; New Delhi, India; and Jakarta, India. J-PAL’s work focuses on researching the results of different cases of anti-poverty action to evaluate what is most effective and advise policymakers accordingly, and educating people about how and when to evaluate social programs.

J-PAL’s Approach

At its base, J-PAL’s approach is simple. Any case of policy-making has results, and by tracking actions and results in a large number of cases, one can determine which are successful and which are not, and therefore which to support in order to produce a maximum impact. Using this data, one can also attempt to predict the policies whose results could potentially be reproduced elsewhere. J-PAL’s methods also emphasize focusing on the mechanisms behind policies and not on specific details of a single scenario. Particular details vary from case to case, but human behavior does show certain patterns; in similar circumstances, policies that have worked before can work again.

J-PAL and its affiliated professors have performed over 900 evaluations and have developed a selection of case studies and other teaching resources to educate people about the analysis of social programs. Every year, J-PAL runs Evaluating Social Programs, a five-day course for policymakers, researchers and nonprofit workers that covers the basics of organizing scientifically sound evaluations and interpreting their results. Close to 50 people attended the 2018 course, which took place at MIT. J-PAL has also made the content of the course available online for free through the online education platform edX, allowing people around the globe to learn from J-PAL’s work. The case studies discussed in the course are also available on J-PAL’s website.

Moving Forward

MIT’s J-PAL Lab has encouraged the scaling up of policies ranging from remedial education in India, deworming in Kenya and community block grants in Indonesia. It also continues to study policy and advocate for effective social policies. The training that it provides for policy-makers allows them to maximize their impact in an economically efficient way. As J-PAL continues to grow, its affiliates will continue to find those levers.

– Meredith Charney
Photo: Flickr

Social Entrepreneurship in Developing CountriesToday, social entrepreneurship is growing rapidly in size, scope and support. An unprecedented number of organizations are using entrepreneurship as a strategy to address social problems like poverty, at-risk youth and hunger. Social entrepreneurs are developing creative and innovative organizations that give people the tools, education and resources to become an entrepreneur. As entrepreneurs, they can serve their own communities, improving health, decreasing hunger, creating safer environments and accessing clean water. Here are five organizations using social entrepreneurship to help create jobs in developing countries.

5 Examples of Social Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries

  1. The Adventure Project
    The Adventure Project works in developing countries seeking out partnerships with organizations creating jobs for their communities. Some organizations include KickStart, LifeLine, Living Goods, Water for People, and WaterAid. The organization chooses partners based on their measurable social impact, a proven track record of success, and readiness to scale. Since its inception, the Adventure Project has empowered 798 people to find a job. This has led to thriving local economies, improved environmental conditions and even reduced mortality rates. In Kenya, cooking over an open fire posed a huge health risk to both people and the environment. Now, stoves are made and sold locally. Masons create stoves and vendors earn commissions for their sales. And because they’re using 50 percent less charcoal, families are saving 20 percent of daily expenses. In other countries, villagers have been trained as health care agents, selling more than 60 products at affordable prices. These health care agents also care for more than 800 people in their communities.
  2. Indego Africa
    Indego Africa is a nonprofit social enterprise that supports women in Rwanda through economic empowerment and education. This enterprise aims to break intergenerational cycles of poverty. To do so, Indego Africa provides female artisans with the tools and support necessary to become independent businesswomen and drive local development.Partnering with 18 cooperatives of female artisans, Indego Africa sells handcrafted products through an e-commerce site, collaborations with designers and brands and at boutiques worldwide. To develop their entrepreneurial skills, Indego Africa provides artisans with training in quality control, design and product management. Indego currently employs over 600 women, 58 percent of whom make over $2 a day. According to the World Bank, $2 a day marks the entry point into Africa’s growing middle class.
  3. Mercardo Global
    Mercardo Global is a social enterprise organization that links indigenous artisans in rural Latin American communities to international sales opportunities. As a result, this organization helps provide sustainable income-earning opportunities, access to business training and community-based education programs. Mercado Global also increases access to microloans for technology, such as sewing machines and floor looms. Mercado Global believes income alone cannot solve long-term problems. Therefore, the organization focuses on both business education and leadership training. In doing so, Mercado Global enables artisans to address systemic problems within their communities. Artisans are given microloans, ideally to purchase equipment that allows them to work more efficiently. They then pay back their loans, allowing another artisan to attain one. Forty-four percent of Mercado Global entrepreneurs held a leadership position within their cooperatives in the last three years. Ninety-six percent participate in the finances of their households. And 77 percent of women voted in their last community election.
  4. Solar Sister
    Everyone should have access to clean energy. And the team behind Solar Sister believes women are a key part of the solution to the clean energy challenge. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 600 million people have no access to electricity. Moreover, more than 700 million must rely on harmful fuels. However, women bear the majority burden of this energy poverty and disproportionately shoulder the harmful effects. In order to address this issue and create more equity around clean energy and economic opportunities, Solar Sister invests in women’s enterprises in off-grid communities. By doing so, the Solar Sister team builds networks of women entrepreneurs. Women are first given access to clean, renewable energy. Then, they participate in a direct sales network to build sustainable businesses. Centering local women in a rapidly growing clean energy sector is essential to eradicating poverty. This allows helps achieve sustainable solutions to climate change and a host of development issues. Evidence shows the income of self-employed rural women with access to energy is more than double the income of those without access to energy. For rural female wage or salary workers, access to energy is correlated with 59 percent higher wages. Solar Sister is currently helping over 1,200 entrepreneurs. The team is also partnering with Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Sustainable Energy for All, U.N. Women and Women in Solar Energy.
  5. United Prosperity
    United Prosperity is a nonprofit organization providing an online lending platform connecting lenders to poor entrepreneurs across the globe. A Kiva-like peer-to-peer loaning system allows anyone with spare cash to guarantee loans to entrepreneurs in need. Lenders select the entrepreneur they want to support and lend any amount they wish. United Prosperity then consolidates the loan amount and passes it on to the entrepreneur through a local bank. For every $1 given by the lender, the bank makes a nearly $2 loan to the entrepreneur through a partner Microfinance Institution (MFI). Once a loan or a loan guarantee has been made, the entrepreneur’s progress is tracked online. When loans are repaid, lenders get their money back. They then have the opportunity to recycle it by lending or guaranteeing the loan to another entrepreneur. These microloans aim to help entrepreneurs, mostly women, grow their small businesses. United Prosperity has transferred more than $280,000 in loans to 1,300 entrepreneurs. Moreover, MFI helps build entrepreneurs’ credit history with local banking systems, thus encouraging more banks to lend to them.

These organizations are wonderful examples of how social enterprises have effectively empowered locals in the social entrepreneurship space. Through innovation, investment in local resources and talent, and measurement practices, these organizations have helped social entrepreneurs around the world to scale and grow. In doing so, they also address social problems like poverty, at-risk youth and hunger in their community. The results have been improved health, increased economic opportunities, safer environments and increased access to clean water and energy.

Leroy Adams
Photo: Flickr

Cuddle+Kind Feeds ChildrenA fast-growing social business, Cuddle+Kind feeds children in need by donating ten meals for every handknit doll sold and empowers female Peruvian artisans through fair-trade jobs.

A Global Need for Food

One in seven people worldwide are hungry, and one in nine do not have enough food to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. A reduced diet causes 45 percent of deaths in children under five, which adds up to 3.1 million children every year.

Cuddle+Kind, founded by Derek and Jennifer Woodgate, was created with the aim of reducing these numbers and feeding hungry children around the world. The couple was inspired by their three young children and how heartbroken they would be if they could not feed and provide for them. The Woodgates have a background in health, so they understood the important role that nutrition plays in a child’s life.

The couple spent a year establishing partnerships with artisans in Peru and designing the dolls. Dolls in all different types of animals are available, including dogs, foxes, cats and bunnies. Each comes with a unique name and personality. Cuddle+Kind officially launched in September 2015 on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo.com. In just seven weeks, the company sold enough dolls to donate 163,543 meals.

How Cuddle+Kind Feeds Children

Since its beginning, Cuddle+Kind has moved to its own website but maintains the same mission of providing ten meals for every doll sold. The company aims to provide one million meals to children in need every year. The meals are provided through several partnerships with nonprofits, including the World Food Program, the Children’s Hunger Fund, the Breakfast Club of Canada and several orphanages in Haiti. Through these organizations, Cuddle+Kind feeds children around the world and has donated more than 4,452,292 meals since 2015.

Proper nutrition leads to an increase in school attendance and improved educational performance. Girls have higher school attendance when food is not an issue. Additionally, a child’s psychosocial and emotional development has been linked to proper diet and eating habits. Children who are not fed regularly do not develop the same bonds with a caregiver that is typically established. When a family or community shares a meal there is a social component that a child is exposed to and learns from. As Cuddle+Kind feeds children, it provides them the ability to reach higher academically and grow to be stronger, more capable people.

Empowering Women in Peru

In addition to improving the lives of children, Cuddle+Kind empowers women in Peru by providing them sustainable, fair-trade income for creating the dolls they sell. The business has created over 500 jobs for Peruvian artisans, which is needed in a country where only 39.6 percent of women work in wage or salaried positions as compared to 50.1 percent of men.

Being a socially-minded organization, Cuddle+Kind feeds children with the motive of continually improving the world. As a business that works for the good of children in need and emboldens creative women, Cuddle+Kind is blazing a path of kindness and generosity that will have unending benefits for those they reach.

– Sarah Dean
Photo: Flickr

Fighting Poverty in AsiaOf the 766 million people living on less than $1.90 a day, 42 percent of them live in Asia, despite the significant economic development in these past decades. Many global groups realize the importance of aid to change this devastating state of millions, and this list below describes just a few of the organizations worthy of recognition for their poverty-reducing ambitions in Asia.

Hope Place

Hope Place, a Malaysian nonprofit organization, has been providing the Penan community in Ulu Baram more than just the typical food aid packages. After visiting the community to evaluate the amount of food that was needed for the Giving Hope, Sharing Love charity project, founder Kevin Wan and a group of volunteers realized that other health, water and electricity issues created a huge hurdle to the community’s improving welfare.

Eventually, Hope Place collected enough funds and sponsorship to supply solar panels, hygienic products and school supplies for 60 Penan families. More than 100 volunteers ran other important helpful procedures such as health screenings, dental services, haircuts and hair lice treatment to children. Educating the villagers on simple daily habits, such as the proper method of brushing teeth, will improve their personal hygiene and health for the long-run. Calling attention to the various ways of fighting poverty in Asia, Hope Place inspires the community to contribute a range of skills and knowledge to villages in need.

Traphaco

Traphaco, the leading Vietnamese pharmaceutical company which was founded in 1972, strategizes to link its economic growth to environmental protection within the 2017-2020 period as an initiative for its corporate social responsibility. The Green Plan is one of its projects concerned with sustainable development. It aims to increase local herbal materials in its medicinal products and to help local farmers reduce poverty and end hunger.

Covering 28 cities and provinces, Traphaco stabilizes employment for local farmers. As pharmaceutical and medicinal plant production in Vietnam is approximately 80 percent dependent on foreign imports, Traphaco hopes to localize this process. So far, 93 percent of Traphaco’s pharmaceutical products are grown by local farmers.

An inspiration and model for other pharmaceutical companies, Traphaco encourages business models to prioritize sustainable development to eventually parallel the level of effort of multinational corporations. Traphaco is one of many other Vietnamese enterprises that strive to engage the community in sustainability efforts and build support for fighting poverty in Asia especially those in poor and remote areas.

Other Noteworthy Organizations in the Region

Other organizations are equally dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable communities in countries throughout Asia.

Epic Homes 

Another nonprofit with a focus on social improvement for vulnerable communities, Epic Homes is working in Malaysia and Myanmar to provide and conserve homes for different groups of people as well as increase safe, public places for women and girls. Epic Homes hopes to build more than 10,000 houses for the indigenous Orang Asli people most of which have been driven out of their home in the forests. “The community is involved in the building of their own homes, so there is a sense of ownership, a sense that this is not just an act of charity,” said John-Son Oei, founder of Epic Homes. Apart from affordable housing, Epic Homes provides funds through a crowdsourcing design platform for open-air classrooms and outhouse toilets. Epic Homes is an exemplary organization of the growing trend that fights poverty in Asia through social entrepreneurship complemented by growing technologies.

Doh Eain

In Yangon, the social venture Doh Eain, aids residents to conserve older, colonial homes and create safe public spaces for women. With the involvement of the community, Doh Eain has also transformed a few back alleys full of trash into green spaces where residents can relax and children can play. “Yangon has very few public spaces that people can use. Having access to their own back alleys and safe spaces has led to greater social cohesion and a change in behavior,” said founder Emilie Roell in an interview with Reuters.

TraXion

TraXion, a Filipino blockchain enterprise powered by Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology, is working to provide economic support to 82.6 percent of the population that are underbanked or unbanked through financial services such as providing savings accounts, insurance, investment consultancy and philanthropic crowdsourcing.

One of the three main features of TraXion, TraXionWallet provides financial services such as those mentioned above. TraXion Chain creates customized business solutions on a blockchain to those who request them. TraXion Contract utilizes smart contracts for transparency and accountability of information. Targeting the unbanked and underbanked, these features reduce transaction and remittance fees and the slowness and lack of transparency of an involved bureaucracy. TraXion is one of many icons for the innovative social enterprises fighting poverty in Asia.

– Alice Lieu
Photo: Flickr

Better World Books Promotes LiteracyThe ability to read and write is one that is vital to a person’s capacity to function and excel in today’s world. Better World Books, an online new and used book retailer, has set out to provide for this need. Through programs that supply books to those in need and the funding of educational efforts, Better World Books promotes literacy across the globe.

The Mission Of Better World Books

Better World Books was founded in 2002 by three University of Notre Dame students who began selling textbooks online to earn extra cash. However, the business quickly became a social enterprise focused on literacy.

Better World Books does not approach philanthropy like typical companies. A focus on social and environmental good is at the heart of the organization’s business model, not an extra cause tacked on. The company’s mission integrates a focus on literacy and education, so much so that they offer paid time off to employees who are volunteering.

Better World Books collects books from book drives, college campuses and libraries, helping divert used books out of landfills and back into the hands of readers. Additionally, any books not sold are recycled in an attempt to be earth-conscious.

How Better World Books Promotes Literacy

For every book sold, Better World Books promotes literacy by donating a book to those in need. To date, the organization has donated 26,059,744 books to people around the world who do not typically have access to them. The company also gives grants and donations to projects that promote literacy, with a whopping $27,559,358 currently donated.

Better World Books promotes literacy with the help of three main partners: Books for Africa, Room to Read and The National Center for Families Learning. Each of these organizations has unique ways of promoting literacy and education worldwide which they are able to accomplish with the support of Better World Books.

Partnering for Literacy

Books for Africa’s mission is a simple one: bring an end to the “book famine” in Africa. Currently, the organization is the largest transporter of donated books to the African continent having shipped over 41 million books since the company began in 1988. Last year alone $2.5 million was used to send books to students all over Africa. The partnership that Better World Books has established with the organization has been impactful, allowing for more books to be provided to those in need.

Another partner of Better World Books, Room to Read, focuses on providing an education to children everywhere, specifically by increasing literacy and concentrating on gender equality. To date, 10.7 million children have benefitted from Room to Read’s programs, 8,703 teachers and librarians have been trained by the organization and 20.6 million books have been distributed.

Furthermore, Better World Books also partners with The Robinson Community Learning Center in South Bend, Indiana, The Prison Book Program and Ride for Reading. These smaller, domestic organizations were some of the first to benefit from Better World Books’ partnership and began the company’s interest in literacy.

With 750 million illiterate adults worldwide, the work Better World Books is doing is sorely needed. One of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is to ensure that all youth and most adults are literate and numerate by 2030. With the help of Better World Books, that goal seems more than attainable.

– Sarah Dean
Photo: Flickr

SOLS 24/7
SOLS 24/7 is an international humanitarian organization dedicated to ending poverty in Malaysia. It aims to provide poor and underserved people with technology and education to which they otherwise would not have access. The nonprofit runs five social enterprises to help eradicate poverty in Malaysia.

Five Ways SOLS 24/7 Promotes Technology and Education

  1. SOLS Energy
    SOLS Energy believes that solar panels are the best way to alleviate poverty in Malaysia in a lasting, sustainable way. Malaysia is the world’s third-largest producer of solar panels; local production makes solar panels affordable and their purchase supports the domestic economy. Malaysian homes with solar panels get, on average, a 16.9 percent return on their investment annually from being able to sell excess solar power to the electric grid. In total, the solar panels distributed by SOLS Energy have prevented more than 162,000 pounds of CO2 emissions from electricity generated by fossil fuels. SOLS Energy also runs Solar Academy, which trains Malaysians in solar technology to create jobs and spread the knowledge of how to maintain, install and repair solar panels.
  2. SOLS Tech
    SOLS Tech has a twofold goal: eliminate e-waste and spread digital literacy in Malaysia. As a licensed electronics refurbisher, SOLS Tech collects, repurposes and distributes discarded electronic devices. In 2015 alone, Malaysians discarded 44 million electronic devices. Rather than let this waste sit in landfills and pollute the environment, SOLS Tech fixes discarded electronics and shares them with those in need. Approximately 10 million Malaysians do not have access to a computer. SOLS 24/7 believes that computer literacy skills and computer ownership will widen economic opportunities and help alleviate poverty.
  3. SOLS Smart
    SOLS Smart aims to provide high quality and affordable education to all Malaysians. It teaches English and computer literacy, two skills that SOLS 24/7 views as essential to thriving in the modern economy. SOLS Smart is a certified Cambridge English Language Assessment Centre, meanings its students can take the internationally recognized Cambridge English Exams. Learning English and passing these exams opens new opportunities in employment and further education. To date, English classes have reached more than 10,000 Malaysians, and another 5,000 have received training in computer skills. SOLS Smart is one of seven Google for Education partners in Asia. Students are taught to use Google software and products and, at the end of their training, can receive an official certification from Google.
  4. SOLS Scholars
    SOLS Scholars works to help promising students from underprivileged Malaysian communities pursue higher education. It has held more than 100 development workshops, at which students receive academic coaching, job preparation training and college counseling. It has provided more than 450 scholarships to universities across Malaysia for students who otherwise would not be able to afford higher education.
  5. SOLS Edu
    Combining SOLS 24/7’s interests in education and technology, SOLS Edu is a digital learning platform that can be accessed by app or online. The idea behind SOLS Edu is to offer Malaysians, newly equipped with technology through the SOLS Tech program, another way to receive an education. The digital platform is interactive; students learn in a variety of ways (games, videos, etc.) and teachers remotely track students’ progress. SOLS 24/7 believes that access to education and technology will give Malaysians living in poverty new economic opportunities and a brighter future.

Through its many social enterprises, SOLS 24/7 is working to alleviate poverty in Malaysia. Its focus on both education and technology is reflective of the highly globalized, highly electronic modern world of today. By offering classes, job training and education opportunities, as well as providing people access to electricity and electronic devices, SOLS 24/7 is helping millions of poor Malaysians shape a brighter future for themselves.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

social responsibility marketing

Consumers in 2018 have no problem accessing information. In a time where finding a company’s track record is a mouse-click away, reputation is key. A scandal gone viral can be the only thing needed to affect an otherwise strong company.

In 2017, United Airlines experienced this firsthand. A video showing officials dragging a passenger off a flight lead to uproar across the world. Many wanted a complete boycott of the airline, a frequent result of company scandals.

Most companies are not handling a major PR crisis like United’s. But that does not mean that positive brand image is any less critical to success. Millennial consumers have steadily-increasing purchasing power in the global economy, providing a unique challenge. To appeal to millennial consumers, companies must recognize value differences from previous generations.

Prioritizing social responsibility marketing (SRM) is one of these differences. This strategy focuses on customers wanting to make a difference through their purchases. Social responsibility marketing takes many forms. Sustainable packaging, volunteer-focused ad campaigns and product donations are all possible SRM strategies.

A majority of millennial consumers look for social responsibility marketing when purchasing. This age demographic expects companies to be upfront with social responsibility, spending more on ethical, helpful products. But the shift toward social responsibility is more than an opportunity for a company. For the millions that struggle with food and water insecurity globally, SRM is good news.

Here are the top four ways that social responsibility marketing helps fight poverty.

  1. By Providing Food
    With consumers pushing for social responsibility, ground campaigns are a frequent response. The intention of these programs is to provide aid, such as food and water, directly to those in need. Notable companies have launched major campaigns that do exactly that.
    Kraft Heinz Company set a goal to provide one billion meals by the year 2021. By doing so, Kraft Heinz Company has shown a company priority for social responsibility. Given the impact on global poverty of so many donated meals, the situation is a true win-win.
  1. By Empowering Women
    A branding focus toward social responsibility marketing can provide unique benefits to women. Consumers have pushed companies toward sourcing their products in a socially-responsible way. With increased attention on sourcing, programs to hire women and offer products made by women in developing nations have emerged.
    Coca-Cola launched an initiative to hire five million women by 2020. In the age of social responsibility marketing, this is hardly out of the ordinary for a company to do.
  1. By Helping at the Corporate Level
    Besides helping those in need, SRM helps companies be successful. A company that is socially-responsible can use social responsibility to connect with consumers. By helping improve global conditions, a company creates positive brand associations. These positive brand associations are critical to customer loyalty. With people placing high importance on social responsibility, that loyalty is essential.
  1. By Preserving the Environment
    Changing consumer preferences push companies toward behaviors that help the environment. In practice of implementing an SRM strategy, making products has changed. Processes have become better for the environment and produce fewer pollutants.
    Beyond socially-conscious production materials, basic operations have become better for the environment too. A focus on minimizing waste and maximizing resources has emerged. Recycling and conservation have become standards, not perks. For the environment, this push is long overdue.

On the whole, social responsibility marketing has changed the way companies do business. Consumers continue to demand better practices from companies, and companies are listening.

– Robert Stephen

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Social Enterprise
Traditional businesses measure their success by profit and how much they can bring shareholders. Social enterprises have multiple bottoms lines: profit, people and planet. Profit is important in sustaining a business, but the idea of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is gaining in popularity. Consumers educate themselves on products which leads businesses into action. Focusing on multiple areas of business (triple bottom line) is the crucially important reason why social enterprise works.

 

 

The Traditional Standard: Profit

Profit is an excellent measure of growth and is quantifiable. A business that has a surplus by the end of the year means bills were paid and employees provided for. It doesn’t hurt that investors or shareholders see a return on their money. If there is profit, that means the company is an asset to the economy; this then means more customers, more employees and more investors overall. This business detail remains a critical factor in why social enterprise works.

 

The Growing Standard: People

People want to be happy, and as most of a person’s waking hours are spent at work, these two aspects of life are thereby deeply intertwined. It’s becoming common knowledge that a happier employee means a more productive workplace. An employee who feels empowered and enjoys what they do generally equates to higher productivity and profitability.

Success with people can lead to 65 percent in higher share prices and 100 percent more job applications for the company.

 

The Growing Concern: Planet

Consumer understanding of the planet’s dwindling resources are slowly impacting their buying habits. There hasn’t been a huge move towards green living, but some like social enterprises make this a priority along with profit and people. A new awareness day, Overshoot Day, marks the calendar for when humanity has used up Earth’s resources for that year.

From 2000 to 2017, Overshoot Day crept up from late September to early August, almost by two months. Social enterprises have noticed this trend and are now making moves to change it through sustainable resources.

 

A Moral Solution: Changing the Trajectory for an At-Risk Individual

Many businesses might choose a social entrepreneurial path because there is an issue the organization wants to address. At the heart of freedom businesses (a subgroup of social enterprises) is the goal to hire at-risk individuals. Some businesses like Purnaa, a manufacturing business in Nepal, were inspired to create opportunities for marginalized people and survivors of exploitation. Others like Papillion Enterprise, an Artisan shop in Haiti, wanted to prevent orphans through job creation.

 

Using Resources to Continue the Process

A difficult move for many small social enterprises is growth, particularly in some countries outside of the U.S. There might not be property to mortgage against or the interest rate would kill the purpose. Some social enterprises — like Kairos Trader — use profits and fundraising to provide 0 percent loans to social enterprises. As business grows and money is repaid, the loan can then be cycled into another loan to help social enterprises start or step up.

 

Economic Growth: The Ripple Effect

This list would not be complete without mentioning social enterprises’ impact on economic growth– freedom businesses’ commitment to marginalised people and the Earth is why much of its social enterprise works.

Communities that may have been jobless or ostracised now have opportunities. Those with jobs are able to educate their children and become consumers which grows consumerism on a generational scale building the economy with it.

According to Matt Peterson, founder of Kairos Traders, every sector is needed to make a change for people and planet, but business offers a unique solution. It can seem counterintuitive to have a triple bottom line, but success is proving why social enterprise works.

Profit is needed to be able to grow and provide jobs and materials, but a business that bases its impact on community and planet is a more holistic approach that will bear more fruitful results.

– Natasha Komen

Photo: Flickr