As the world embraces progressiveness, consumers become more ethically aware and make informed buying decisions. Such a situation compels business leaders to question how to integrate societal benefits into their products and services while making their corporate operations more sustainable. Leading firms are creating partnerships with social enterprises to make the journey of their products, from their design to consumption, beneficial for the environment and communities.
Social entrepreneurs are individuals who run mission-led organizations with the end goal of solving community-based problems. They intend to bring environmental or social change by taking risks and initiatives. These social enterprises can help companies get past their sustainability challenges and requirements. They assist them in growing their business ethically with more robust and environmentally conscious supply chains.
Let’s have a look at all how social entrepreneurs and corporate value chains can work together:
Table of Contents
1. Distributors for Last-Mile Delivery
Companies try to connect with most of their consumers, and partnerships with social enterprises can help them tap the last-mile market. Integrating the goals of social entrepreneurs into a corporate value chain will create rigorous consumer engagement. It is, however, essential for corporate stakeholders to have accurate knowledge about the current social needs and ways in which their community could benefit. eLearning options like accredited online MBA programs are exceptional for learning environmental business management and the societal expectations from a company. A viable approach is to sponsor such academic programs for your employee base. Such knowledge will help develop the best ways to impact last-mile customers by partnering with social enterprises.
Social entrepreneurs have an in-depth understanding and unlimited local networks, which can help corporate value chains to target hard-to-reach markets. It enables them to rapidly expand their customer base while conveying products to usually neglected consumers. For instance, a social enterprise, mPharma, partnered with pharmaceutical companies to deliver medicines to African consumers at an affordable rate. They possess knowledge about the consumer behavior of the African market that these larger firms don’t. Consequently, with good collaboration, both can tap a broader market, ensuring community welfare as well.
2. Suppliers of Fair Labor and Sustainable Products
The most common way corporate value chains and social entrepreneurs work together is by making social enterprises act as suppliers. They take responsibility for facilitating corporate firms with fair labor and material produced with ethical and sustainable practices. Consumers usually consider this one of the most remarkable initiatives a corporate firm could take towards societal endeavors. For instance, Greyston Bakery is widely known for providing jobs to low-income residents of Yonkers, New York, with its open-door hiring policy.
We have established that social enterprises can potentially become the last-mile distributors. Similarly, they can collaborate with corporate value chains by developing more sustainable and accountable first-mile delivery. It may be indirect, but it helps corporations towards socially acceptable practices. These social entrepreneurs ensure that their production supports a good cause, such as Child Labor Free, women-empowerment, or smallholder farms. For instance, IKEA collaborates with social enterprises like Industry, encouraging female artisans from India and Africa. As a result, it has created up to 40,000 jobs in this region. In return, IKEA gets unique and diversified differentiation in its product and a good reputation in the market.
3. Business-To-Business Service Providers
The partnership between corporate firms and social enterprises comes with a wide range of promising opportunities. Social enterprises are excellent first and last-mile distributors for corporate value chains, providing great potential. Many social entrepreneurs run organizations whose primary goal is to advance corporate firms more sustainably. They offer business-to-business services which can be helpful to companies and support them to become more socially responsible. Some enterprises that focus on spreading awareness about lowering wastages from industrial production make electronic solutions that firms could use to facilitate the cause.
Topolytics, a social enterprise that deals with analytics and data integration to make the world’s waste more valuable, collaborated with SAP to identify ways to recapture industrial excess. Similarly, some social entrepreneurs provide their consumers with awareness about cybersecurity and other harmful business activities to protect themselves. And, other social enterprises offer training and development programs to corporate employees to expand their skillsets according to the requirement of the market. Hence, social businesses help the corporate value chain accelerate by serving as service providers to other companies.
4. Creating distinction
Organizations these days are in dire need of differentiation for their product and their marketing. Pairing up with a social enterprise helps in improving the public image and creating a distinction. It enhances their reputation and makes them look more socially responsible, increasing their chances of attaining market leadership. On the other hand, social enterprises don’t necessarily have a market maturity period or volume scale for productivity. A corporation that collaborates with these enterprises can use its risk-taking appetite and look for promising market opportunities on a broader horizon. In simpler words, these two types of organizations can pool their resources together and add more value to the products of the corporate value chain.
Today, corporate value chains seek profits more than societal benefits. They can work with social enterprises to understand how to maximize revenue through techniques like less resource wastage and utilization of byproducts. Such marketing strategies help exploit a wider market and deliver products to a broader consumer base. A concrete partnership with social entrepreneurs can help corporate organizations bring social change while ensuring sustainable growth. Organizations that pay heed to environmental and social causes establish distinction through their such endeavors. It allows them to gain market prominence, all the while acting as responsible social entities. So, if an organization seeks to attain unique value propositions, collaborating with social entrepreneurs is viable and effective.
When corporate firms and social entrepreneurs work together, they positively influence their organizations and the community. When done right, social enterprises can use corporate chains to scale sustainability across society and even countries. Simultaneously, corporate firms can increase profitability and build a more resilient consumer base by leveraging socially acceptable practices. In conclusion, both organizations can make the most out of these collaborative opportunities in emerging markets.
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