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Aug 12, 2015

Social Enterprises Provide Two Values–if they bother to tell us

This week the Center for Social Enterprise Development released its review of the enormous progress the past year in developing a social enterprise ecosystem in Central Ohio.  The report, The State of Social Enterprise in Central Ohio can be downloaded at this link.  Its appendix lists the dozens of local social enterprises already in business, and this directory is regularly updated online.

One of the surprises in developing this directory, and producing profiles of many of the listed businesses, has been the difficulty many social enterprises have had in articulating their social impact.  Social impact is not the same as the value proposition of the enterprise’s product or service.  Social enterprises need to make sure they don’t limit their marketing to just their value proposition to the consumer.  Businesses that deliver high value to the consumer are plentiful, and hardly limited to social enterprises.

A social enterprise has two values:  the value of its product or service to the consumer and the direct value to the community produced by its business.  The latter is the social impact.  The consumer, by choosing to buy, is aware of the first value, but is not necessarily aware of the second value UNLESS THE SOCIAL ENTERPRISE MAKES IT EASILY AND VISIBLY KNOWN.

Here are some examples that clearly communicate both values to potential consumers.  The links will take you to full profiles of each business.  Check in to our online directory regularly to see new profiles of highlighted social enterprises.

Pearl Interactive Network  Its value proposition is that it provides call center services to businesses.  Its social impact is that it provides at $10 million payroll and jobs for 430 “unemployable” disabled veterans, veterans, military spouses, people with disabilities, and people living in geographically challenged areas.
Double Comfort   Its value proposition is that it is a full service restaurant that features southern-style cooking.  It social impact is that, through its Buy a Meal, Give a Meal® program,  in just 8 months it has funded meals to 18,000 individuals through area food pantries.
Freedom a la Cart  Its value proposition is that it provides high-value boxed lunches for corporate meetings.  Its social impact is that it employ 22-30 survivors of human trafficking and provides them with workforce development and job training, with another 65+ survivors receiving supportive services (personal items, 1-on-1 mentoring, transportation, jail visits) during their journey through recovery and restoration.
Hot Chicken Takeover    Its value proposition is that it serves informal picnic-style hot chicken and mac-and-cheese.   Its social impact is that it creates financial stability, household stability, and professional development for individuals impacted by homelessness, incarceration, or poverty through structured employment and training: 60+% staff retention, $9,000 weekly payroll, and multiple kitchen licensures and professional development partnerships.
LA Catering   Its value proposition is that it delivers exceptional quality event catering services.  Its social impact is that its profits have enabled LifeCare Alliance to provide daily hot nutritious meals through Meals-on-Wheels to 300 additional older adults and chronically ill persons who are unable to provide meals for themselves.

Social enterprises need to be sure they talk about both values:  the value proposition of their product or service and the social impact they provide to the community.  Only by highlighting both can they achieve their full market potential.

Yours in Linking Mission to Money,

Allen Proctor, President & CEO

Center for Social Enterprise Development