“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”
― Bill Drayton
What exactly is a social enterprise? Well, it’s an organization that works to improve the lives of people and the environment, utilizing strategies usually reserved for commercial endeavors. Sometimes they’re for-profit, sometimes they’re not, and there are as many variations in their structure as there are types of business. Social Enterprise Day celebrates companies that work to service the community and its needs by providing goods and services to the less fortunate people in the world.
History of Social Enterprise Day
Social Enterprise isn’t a new concept, though it has changed with the times as surely as any commercial styled venture does. Social enterprises work hard to support themselves through non-government and non-state supported means, they aren’t aiming to put a further burden on the communities they aim to support, and thus largely fund themselves independently.
Social Enterprise Day is the third Thursday in November and is part of Global Entrepreneurship week (http://uk.gew.co/) It is a day to raise awareness of social enterprises who are businesses trading for a social or environmental mission, for example the Big Issue, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant and divine Chocolate (for more information on social enterprise visit http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/about/about-social-enterprise). Social Enterprise UK will be running a large campaign around Social Enterprise Day to raise awareness of these amazing organisations and the work that they do.
As mentioned previously, while there is a common conception that social enterprises are not-for-profit organizations, and while this is largely true, it is by no means universal. Social Enterprise Day embodies not just those companies that are not-for-profit, but also those that choose to approach their position in their communities with responsibility and with the interest of promoting its success.
In the US, social enterprises engage themselves in helping to resolve social needs by hiring disadvantaged people, providing services and products to those in need, as well as those indicators mentioned above. Companies like Good Will are well known for their work in hiring those in need, and providing products and services at an affordable rate to the same. In fact, Good Will is something of an institution that kicked off the tradition of thrift stores like the Salvation Army and Visiting Nurses hiring those in need and providing their products at an affordable rate.
How to celebrate Social Enterprise Day
Celebrating Social Enterprise Day is as simple as patronizing those companies in your area that make serving the public one of their primary foci. Looking for new furniture or old movies? Stop by Good Will and see what they have, you may find treasures in amongst their wares you couldn’t have anticipated. Are there local groups that you can work with or volunteer with to help on their philanthropic mission? If you don’t know, Social Enterprise Day is a great opportunity to find out!