Social Enterprise has much been on my mind lately. The concept is so foreign to the Wall Street “Greed is Good” I grew up with in the 1980’s. Social Enterprise is where for-profit business is blended with a non-profit giving back element. Sometimes it takes the form of a non-profit which creates a for-profit arm to self-sustain its mission. Sometimes it is a for-profit business that adds in a generous focus on heart and humanity.
Some Social Enterprises are like Tropical Smoothie Café which for the past seven years has hosted National Flip Flop Day to benefit Camp Sunshine. Camp Sunshine is the only retreat in the nation whose mission is dedicated to impacting children with life-threatening illnesses, and the families and siblings who help them through it. the only retreat in the nation whiches. In 2013, the Camp will serve as many as 800 children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the country, free of charge. Camp Sunshine is able to help so many in part due to Tropical Smoothie Café’s fundraising efforts. To date, Tropical Smoothie Café has donated $1.5 million to Camp Sunshine, sending 750 children and their families to experience the camp. Last year, Tropical Smoothie Café raised $400,000 for Camp Sunshine and the company plans to exceed that number in 2013 by raising $500,000. Plus Tropical Smoothie Café locations nationwide collectively gave away close to 200,000 smoothies for the cause, which equated to approximately $1 million in free smoothies. (If you want to learn more about this Social Enterprise, tune in June 4th at 6pm CST or listen to the archived recording any time after at www.linkedlocalnetwork.com/empowerment.)
I am thrilled to also be involved with a Social Enterprise of a different sort. Linked Local Network, which is where you are reading this post right now, is focused on building communities by bringing together business, professionals, residents, public agencies, and non-profits. Linked Local is a for-profit business with a heart-centered mission to benefit communities, provide a platform for unheard voices, and to also support our non-profit partners in the local community.
The old business model used to be either / or. Either a corporation is for profit or it is not for profit. Today many businesses are both / and. They are both for-profit and have a giving back element. These new businesses aim to be profitable and to benefit the larger community. Take a look at the businesses around you and notice how many are more than just money-making enterprises. Take a look at your own business. What are ways you can or are giving back to your community? What are ways you can support those where you live or support the causes you believe in?
Share with us your thoughts on Social Enterprise and how you see this new role of business.