Review: ‘Understanding and Emulating the Social Business Model’

Note: In this post “social business” and “social enterprise” are used interchangeably, as though they have the same definition. According to some experts, the two terms have different meanings, and it is worth noting. One example of the difference can be found here, provided by Zen-Venture OnlineMBA, a website that “strives provide [prospective students] with comprehensive resources and up-to-date information on how to choose the best online MBA program to fit [their] needs,” recently published a fantastic resource for anyone interested in starting a social enterprise. Here is the link to ‘Understanding and Emulating the Social Business Model.’ Having done significant research into social business models, and graduated from the Accelerator Program at reSET, we thought it would be a valuable tool to share, highlighting some of the article’s particularly helpful aspects, as well as some additional information that could be included to help budding social entrepreneurs. This resource is full of very helpful, easy-to-understand information about how one might structure a new social enterprise.

  • It lays out all of the most essential models that have been used by successful social entrepreneurs and includes some very well-known examples. 
  • It is well-tailored to people new to social business. Some similar articles we have seen would be a challenge for someone unfamiliar with social enterprise to understand. One article uses mathematical equations to break down different business models.
  • Some of the more complex aspects of social enterprise, like the notion of impact, are explained terms of value and significance to the business. The text below is a great example.

“[Social businesses] also need to be able to easily quantify the benefits they’re providing to a local community and to ensure that the funding, goods, or service they’re providing to a community are actually having the intended effect. Without being able to demonstrate this, it’s nearly impossible to build brand and customer loyalty.” A couple of things that may have been helpful to include:

  • An additional resources section. A few links at the end would help readers effectively navigate the wide range of content available online.
  • A section about the significance of generating revenue. Using profits to sustain the social mission is the essential difference between a social enterprise (for-profit or otherwise) and a traditional nonprofit. This is not made clear.

Overall, ‘Understanding and Emulating the Social Business Model’ is one of the best introductions to social enterprise that we have found online. It effectively outlines the core structures that social entrepreneurs have successfully used to help solve lingering social problems for prospective MBA students and serves as a valuable tool for encouraging social enterprise.

Posted on September 18, 2013 in Social Entrepreneurship

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