As a Canadian, I believe in a society that protects its weaker members, the poor, the old, those who can not care for themselves. We have a basic social security system for those who cannot care for themselves. It is a privilege of Canadians and those of us who travel or live as expats in less fortunate places see how much it is a rare privilege.
In most places in the world, only the rich live comfortably. There are few countries where a middle class has emerged and of these, standards for those families are low and making ends meet is difficult, saving money is impossible, rising above the middle class is improbable. The poor live in appalling conditions, suffer, go hungry, and die far too young. This is the status quo and far too many people are comfortable with it.
Charities aim to help those societies in need with the generosity of those who can afford it. Many do incredible work, but much of the income raised goes to ensuring a continued flow of income. Not enough gets to those in need.
Social enterprises have similar goals, but approach things differently. By offering something that people with means will buy or pay for, they ensure their operations are self-sufficient and have far better odds of continuing to offer their social aid or impact for a long time. I have seen great examples of these in the Philippines – Rags2Riches being the most successful. This company converts rags into designer bags involving entire communities from poor areas across the country teaching them valuable trade skills that can then be applied to their gain. Thousands of families are impacted, entire communities far better off, all of it paid for by people who purchase beautiful handmade designer wallets and handbags.
This model of social enterprise requires a few components to be successful – a product or service that people will pay for, a process to ensure delivery of services or goods, and a resulting beneficial impact or improvement for society. With creativity, innovative ideas, and smart process implementation, we could solve many social issues this way. Most people could come up with at least one social enterprise idea – who it would benefit and how it could be sustainable. But most people are not able to implement their ideas. What if we could create a forum where people could submit ideas and others could implement them? What if there was a place where you could source people and resources to make your ideas and project a reality? What if we could all play our parts in changing the world? All we need is a place to start. How about we start right here, right now?
– Patricia Kack, Newest Member of Guts For Change