Definitions Of Social Enterprise In Australia

Social Enterprise. Does anyone have the same definition? The short answer is no. In Canada, social enterprise is defined as an emerging dynamic business model that: a) has social, environmental and/or cultural goals; b) trades in competitive markets; and c) reinvests profits for community benefit. The Centre for Social Enterprise has captured all the different definitions in this one image below.

Social Enterprise Continuum

Social Enterprise Continuum

Here at One10, we embrace the social enterprise continuum. We even encourage social enterprises to embrace a for-profit model so that it can find investors to help scale up the operations to have an even greater impact. This is tough to do on a not-for-profit model, but there are ways to finance this type of model.

We are not here to set a definition to social enterprise, but definitely want to broaden Australia’s definition of it. At the moment, the leading social enterprise incubators make people who want to pursue a social enterprise model run it as a not-for-profit or make then give away 50% of profits if they want to claim to be a social enterprise. We think this is silly because of the above continuum. We don’t think there is anything wrong in making profits. And what people decide to do with those profits is up to them. They could actually be making a bigger impact in having a clean, transparent, and ethical supply chain instead of donating 50% of its profits to a NFP that campaigns for ethical supply chains.

For profit business can make a bigger impact by scaling. Michael Porter gave an amazing TED talk in 2009 that reflect our feelings exactly: “Michael Porter admits he’s biased, as a business school professor, but he wants you to hear his case for letting business try to solve massive problems like climate change and access to water. Why? Because when business solves a problem, it makes a profit — which lets that solution grow.”