By Muhammad Ilyas March 28, 2018
Poverty, gender inequality, little educational opportunities, severe health problems, and countless other issues that we still need to tackle in order to see a prosperous society. The issue is, these problems have existed for centuries and we have not been able to get rid of them or minimize them.
Several non-profit organizations are working on the issues that the world is faced with, but we still haven’t seen good results that could reduce the problems.Being a commerce and business student, and working with non-profit organizations, I have realized that non-profits organizations are not the sustainable solution to eradicate these issues – as they are dependent on the funds from various donors. Many funds are project based which last a few years and once the project is complete, no one is left to work on that issue. With the completion of projects and grants, many non-profit organization stop working on the cause due to their lack of funding.
Businesses that are established for profit making are stable (not all of them) because of the revenue that they generate by offering their services and goods, but, the issue is that they rarely care about the triple bottom lines which are people, profit, and planet. Some businesses are so focused on profit-making that they have forgotten their goals to maximize profit are actually hurting the people and planet.
We have seen some improvements regarding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in last few decades, which have been adopted by many organizations in different forms. Unfortunately, the CSR activities have been widely used for spreading good publicity about their own business, or, expanding the market share. It has remained a good opportunity for them to market their product or services on the expense of social responsibility, for which they get tax rebate too. A double benefit of-course!
Now, let’s take a look at non-profit organizations. They are doing great job for social causes and has contributed a lot to the society in different forms. In the U.S, it would be good to drive the mission – based on the organization’s mission. But, in developing countries, it is very hard for non-profit organization to focus on their mission. That’s totally fine until they are working for a social cause. But, they are dependent on someone’s else donation, so it becomes very hard for them to be sustainable. I have seen many non-profit organizations that came into existence, and then within few years they were no more. The big reason of bankruptcy continues to happen is the lack of sustainability because nonprofits depend on donations and grant money.
The solution to overcome the consequences of both profit-making organizations and non-profit organizations is social entrepreneurship or social enterprise. Through social entrepreneurship / social enterprises, we can tackle enormous level of problems that the world is faced with, and then the social enterprises would become sustainable.
Social enterprises are mission driven, very focused on three bottom lines: People, Profit, and Planet, and are looking for both social and financial reward. The best aspect of social enterprises is that they can survive without the support of donors and grant money.