It is clearly mentioned on the UN website that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is the world’s best plan initiated by the UN to create a better world for people and planet by 2030. It consists of 17 main goals such as No Poverty (SDG-1), No Hunger (SDG-2) and affordable clean energy (SDG-7). This is a call for action for all countries for creating a sustainable future that brings equal prosperity in economic as well as social and environmental sector. However, this initiative comes with many challenges especially regarding merge social and environmental contributions on the operation of a business. It needs a new concept that enables people to understand that economic prosperity could be achieved in line with doing good for society and the environment.
Nowadays, the term of social entrepreneurship introduced to enable a business to create social and environmental impact using their power as well as entrepreneurial skills. Social entrepreneurs combine innovation, entrepreneurship and social purpose and seek to be financially sustainable by generating revenue from trading. Their mission priorities social benefits above financial profit, and if and when a surplus is made. This is used to further the social aims of the beneficiary group or community, and not distributed to those with a controlling interest in the enterprise (Kickul & Lyons, 2016). While traditional business only concerns on maximising profit, the social enterprise uses their surplus not only to cover their operating expenses but also to distribute their profit to create greater benefits such as ending poverty or responsible production. The social enterprise ability to create benefits for society and the environment could be understood by examining their value chain.
During the input stage, the enterprises could perform ethical sourcing of product, in their operations, they could employ marginalised community, through product and services they offer, for instance, “Thank You” mineral water, the enterprise could distribute the profit to sponsor the construction of water infrastructure in the developing country (Littlewood, 2018). Whereas in traditional business, the organisation will only focus on efficiency during input and operation stages. Also, the organisation has no initiative to distribute its profit for doing good for society or environment. It is obvious that on its value chain, social enterprises can merge their business operation by creating a positive impact on society and environment, hence it has an essential contribution to achieve SDGs.
The example social enterprise essentiality in achieving SDG could be explained on the quadrant below:
The quadrant describes how social enterprises value chains brings benefits to address single or multiple SDGs (Littlewood, 2018)
For instance, the initiative of Thank You water to develop water infrastructure in a developing country using their profit will directly impact on achieving SDG-6 (Clean Water & Sanitation). Toms action to donate many pair of shoes for the students in a rural area has an essential role to achieve multiple SDGs such as Good Health (SDG-3) and Quality of Education (SDG-4). Angel Xpress value chains from recruiting teaching volunteer, managing resources as well as providing a free class for poor kids in Mumbai drive to address SDG-4. Whereas, Elephant Emporium is a good example of a social enterprise that in each value chains contribute to the different type of SDGs. Recruit people from developing country (Cambodia) to produce their handcart, buy them in relatively fair prices and access to developed market enable the company to address SDG-1 and SDG-, the recycle material of their products drive them to meet SDG-11 and SDG-12.
In a nutshell, the ability of social enterprises to merge their business activity by creating impact for society and environment enables them to provide a better future for people and planet. Social enterprise at least has one stage on their value chain that has a single or even multiple impacts on addressing SDG issues. Hence, it has an essential role in achieving SDGs.
Kickul, J., & Lyons, T. (2016). Understanding social entrepreneurship (p. 166). New York: Routledge.
Kickul, J., & Lyons, T. (2016). Understanding social entrepreneurship (2nd ed., p. 18). New York: Routledge.
Littlewood, D. (2018). How Social Enterprises Can Contribute to The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (p. 5). Sheffield: Emerald Publishing Limited.