As the application deadline approaches for communityBUILD’s Social Venture Pipeline (April 15), I am having more calls with ventures asking about whether they’re a social enterprise. I find that I know a social enterprise when I see it. This means that I see that the mission permeates the culture of the enterprise and informs decision-making. However, it doesn’t overwhelm decision-making. The strongest social entrepreneurs are painfully aware of the balancing act they must master between the demands of running a business in a competitive marketplace and pursuing impact.
For example, I have a client whose mission is to recruit, train and pay fair wages to women with young children needing flexible hours and work from home. As the company strongly scales, the mission is being challenged because it is becoming more difficult to find the employees that are needed. Instead of watering down their mission, however, they are adapting their operations and improving their recruitment strategies. It would have been easier to attenuate their mission.
You can get a good sense of whether you’re a social enterprise by filling in B-Corp’s Impact Assessment form that you use to apply to become B-Corp certified . It’s free and you’ll get an immediate grading to see how far you have to go to be certified. You will see the five ares that B-Corp measures: environment, workers, customers, community, governance and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. These are the essential elements of a social enterprise.