As much as if you just interested in social entrepreneurship or you are already part of a project, to know and to study some of the cases that are taking place in Spain and in other countries is a very useful and productive exercise that can bring new ideas and points of view, as well as enlighten you in practical ways about the operation and the nature of this promising type of initiative.
From technology companies to social networks, through projects of a rural nature or with a vocation of public service, all these ideas carry common denominators related to the commitment to the community, the need for Social Innovation and an essential use of creativity.
The cooperative L’Olivera, located in the Lerida village of Vallbona de les Monges, is a good example of how companies can turn to social innovation successfully. Because, from the production of up to 17 different types of wine and five oil specialties, this cooperative born in 1974 manages to socially promote people with mental disabilities and at risk of exclusion, while representing a viable economic alternative based on the natural values of the area. The process is highly manual, from pruning to packaging labeling; a reflection of a respectful practice with the environment and also of a family farming spirit. L’Olivera, which has an occupational therapy service and a residence home, currently employs more than 70 people and its success has led to the creation of a foundation and a replica project that, since 2010, is responsible for managing the vineyards of the city of Barcelona and making the official wine of the city.
Founded in 2000 in Buenos Aires, Interrupcion (thus, without tilde) is an organization dedicated to spreading fair trade and collaborating in the marketing of agricultural products that are certified under this international premise, which requires ethical working and commercial conditions. To do this, it proposes a path of sustainable Development whose culminating objective is to achieve biodynamic production, which consists of renouncing the use of traditional agricultural chemicals to move to natural methods, such as worm farms, crop rotation or the use of compost. Interrupcion, whose name wants to evoke the interest in breaking with the traditional business mentality based solely on profit, works together with about two thousand small and medium-sized companies producing fresh fruits and vegetables in Latin America, thus forming a true network of social responsibility. Since 2003 it also operates from New York and in 2012 added a new office in Peru.
We are a social enterprise, not a company or an NGO,” says Yaqua, a Peruvian bottled water brand that, by offering distribution companies the same profit margin as the competition, devotes 100% of its profits to the implementation of water systems suitable for consumption in small communities that lack this basic service. Of the 31 million people living in Peru, about eight million do not have access to drinking water. Yaqua fights this crisis by working with NGO’s experienced in this problem and bringing to rural populations of up to 100 homes and plunged into extreme poverty the necessary infrastructure to alleviate this very serious problem. It is a paradigmatic case of social entrepreneurship and one of the first to appear in Lima (the project saw the light in mid 2013). With an initial production of 5,000 bottles, they multiplied this figure by 16 in a few months using typically commercial strategies, such as promoting themselves with the help of popular figure in Peruvian society or making use of viral marketing that the internet makes possible.
La Fábrica Social is one of those initiatives that demonstrates that creativity and social vision can generate new and truly inspiring realities. This Mexican company created in 2007 revalues the traditional craft of weavers and embroiders, providing employment to more than 150 indigenous women from five states, promoting their development through a rural school of design and distributing in terms of fair trade the product of work that emphasises cultural diversity, respect for creative freedom, equal opportunities, equity and autonomy. In short, a deep social conviction that is demonstrated, for example, in each piece manufactured where the name of the artisan who created it appears, the hours they invested and their community. Without a doubt, if Karl Marx were alive, he would applaud this small yet enormous detail. And all this without forgetting the innovation and high quality in materials and designs. Fábrica Social has two outlets in Mexico City, has taken its products to Japan and even to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
In the task carried out Arbusta, a social enterprise since the beginning of 2013 in the Argentine city of Rosario, the concepts of inclusion and empowerment are of fundamental relevance, as it provided digital solutions to the corporate world (working as outsourcing company or outsourcing) by providing, at the same time, employment opportunities to women and youth in situations of social vulnerability, those who have access to few jobs that did not appear in their work frame of possibilities (Social reality in which it also acts the phenomenon of the digital divide). Arbusta, whose activities include social media and data management, connects and subsequently ensures that the commitment acquired between company and community is effectively fulfilled. Companies that have requested their services include the popular auction site MercadoLibre and the Argentine government’s Ministry of Education.
The project Encore.org it is not exactly a social enterprise but a non-profit organization (NPO), a type of initiative whose fundamental difference from the first is that its funding often comes from donations from individuals, companies, state institutions and organizations of all kinds. However, the two have several characteristics in common and agree on the main goal: the search for social impact. Founded in 1997 and headquartered in San Francisco, Encore.org addresses the problem of finding work for the so-called baby boomer generation, that part of the population that is between 55 and 65 years old (almost 24% of the total population of the united States), providing information, resources, and connections with companies, apart from offering a program of scholarships and a system of awards, so it aims to revalue the importance of experience (its motto “Second acts for the greater good” is something like “Second actions for the common good”, in reference to the second stage of life) and apply it in activities of social need such as education, the environment or the public health.
Apps for Good
A good social entrepreneurship is one who realizes a concrete problem that goes through the community and then imagines a solution. Algramo, a Chilean company born in mid-2013, noted that products sold in small packaging “punish” consumption (with an overpricing of up to 40% with respect to larger formats), something suffered especially by families with fewer resources who usually buy in a more dosed way. And they came up with an ingenious proposal: “reduce the cost of living in a sustainable way through the empowerment of small businesses and communities.” In practice, they developed a network of automatic bulk dispensers in which everyone takes what they need, without overpaying and in a sustainable way, since it works with a system of returnable containers. At the same time, it serves as an alternative for small establishments that often cannot compete with large supermarkets. Thus, Algramo wants to take the path known as the triple impact: economic, sustainable and social. At the moment they market (dispense) foods such as beans, lentils, rice and chickpeas, although they are currently developing a new chemical machine.
One of the horizons of social entrepreneurship is to awaken and cultivate in the community at large a mentality and an attitude that is more comitted and supportive. And in companies, as social agents, in particular. It is not a simple mission, since it is a question of modifying and even breaking with an instrumentalist business tradition that has understood the obtaining of economic benefits as an end in itself. The Madrid-born HelpUP is a social network oriented to volunteering in which any person or organisation can share and search for solidarity projects, interact with other people or collectives with the same interests or that pursue the same purposes and actively collaborate. In this sense, it has crowdfunding things (like Goteo) and seeker things (like HacesFalta). Participating in this space of exchange requires transparency, so all social organizations that want to intervene must demonstrate their effective existence and the proof that their accounts are clear. Although with a very recent presence (The project jumped to the network in January 2014). HelpUP already has more than 4 thousand people registered in the service and about 200 NGOs from twenty countries.
Nobleza obliga is an Argentine crowdfunding platform aimed at solidarity initiatives such as “medical treatments, scholarships or installing a new slide in the square.” In a few minutes and after a verification, a dedicated space can be created free of charge from which the “promoter”, who is the figure responsible for presenting the project, spreading it and defining who receives the money, actively discloses a “Cause”, which must consist of a description, a video, a deadline and a target amount. Nobleza Obliga, which in its two years of experience has achieved a great impact on Argentine society, differs from other crowdfunding services in that, on the one hand it transfers the amount collected even if the intial total objective has not been achieved (contrary to the traditional dynamics of all or nothing) and, on the other, it does not work with a system of rewards in exchange for the donation.