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What are social enterprises and how do they help society?

Questions to consider:
-What is a social entrepreneur?
-What kind of people become social entrepreneurs? What motivates them?
-What is the guiding philosophy ofksocial enterprises? How do these businesses work?
-What are some examples of successful social enterprises in Singapore?
-How are social enterprises recognized by the community (e.g. donations) and the government (e.g. awards and grants)?
Find out more about these issues:
-The rise of social enterprise and the social entrepreneur
-Examples of successful social enterprises in Singapore and elsewhere in the world

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What is a social entrepreneur?

A social entrepreneur is a person who runs an organization that makes use commercial strategies to maximise the improvements for the environment and people, rather than maximising profits for shareholders. A social entrepreneur basically puts the welfare of the environment and people as its primary priority and making money the secondary priority when running the business or organisation. They are those people who have innovative solutions to the problems currently faced in the society. They want to improve the society and come up with ideas and solutions to curb the social problems. These social entrepreneurs would rather work out the source of these social problems by introducing new solutions and change the system of how the society works rather than leaving these problems to the government or other sectors to solve.

What kind of people become social entrepreneurs? What motivates them?

Social entrepreneurs are those people who are ambitious and are visionaries. They believe that the society needs and can be further improved with their own innovative and revolutionary ideas, thus they step up and be social entrepreneurs to put their thoughts to action. People who want to change the society for the better are probably going to be social entrepreneurs. These people are innovative and always thinking of solutions to improve the society. They are most probably visionaries and realists, and are only concern with their practical implementation of their vision. These people would commit their whole live to be a social entrepreneur and try to improve the society constantly as the society is now plagued with problems that affects mostly the poor, the elderly and the sick. They believe that these problems could be eradicated by implementing change. To these ambitious social entrepreneurs, nothing is impossible to them, and this motivates them that they could improve the society and make the society better for the less fortunate group of people. These social entrepreneurs put the welfare of other people in society as their primary priority. They are motivated by the fact that they could improve the society by introducing changes to the people.

What is the guiding philosophy of social enterprises? How do these businesses work?

Social enterprises are often regarded as non-profit organisations, but unlike many non-profit organisations, social enterprises have open membership and goals that aim to improve welfare of the community and public while most non-profit organisation only regard the interests of a self-serving elite. There are three factors, which frame the business philosophy of a social enterprise.

1) The extent to which it engages in ethical review of the goods and services it produces, and its production processes.
2) The extent to which it defines its social purposes, and evidences its social impact.
3) The extent to which it democratises ownership, management and governance by passing control of its human, social and financial capital to its primary stakeholders (producers, employees, customers, service users).

Apart from these three factors, there is also an international definition which states:
“Not for Profit is a misleading criterion. It is good practice for social enterprises to provide incentives to workers, and social and community investors through dividends. Distribution of profits or payments to individuals should not compromise the enterprises' value statement or social objectives”.

There are four types of social enterprises, work integration model; plough-back-profit model; subsidised services model; social needs model, but most of the social enterprises consist a combination of these models.
1) Work integration model
The Work integration social enterprise provides skill training and/or employment opportunities to the needy and disadvantaged people, for example ex-offenders. This is to allow the needy and disadvantaged to start afresh and reintegrate into the society and also to encourage them to be self-reliant and not depend on charities and social organisations to meet the basic needs of their live. This gives the people who could not find employment an opportunity to be employed.

2) Plough-back-pFspan>
This type of social enterprise has one ultimate objective, which is to generate money to fund the programs of their affiliated social organisation. This helps the main social organisation to be financially sustainable and also effectively reduce the organisation’s reliance on donations.

3) Subsidised services model
This type of social enterprise makes it possible for the needy or disadvantaged to have access to services that they normally could not afford, for example healthcare and educational services. This is possible as this type of social enterprise provide 3ubsidies on such services for the needy and disadvantaged people. This allows the needy to be able to have a better quality of life.
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4) Social needs model
This type of social enterprise is u3ed to serve the society’s social needs and address some social problems. These issues can include the importance of racial harmony and family/community bonding. The social needs consist of problems related to the disabled, the mentally-ill and the foreign workers….etc.

What are some examples of successful social enterprises in Singapore?

Minds social enterprise
There are quite a lot of successful social enterprises in Singapore. One of them is MINDS Social Enterprise. It was started in 2000 to create employment opportunities for the intellectually disabled as an additional scheme to secure employment for them. It has proven to be a feasible alternative of creating employment opportunities for them, resulting in reinforcing some of the in-house industries and transforming them into platforms which serves as sustainable employment for many adults with intellectual disability. MINDS Social Enterprise was established with the aim to improve the quality of life of adults with intellectual disability. Projects are created to provide a range of “supported employment” for these young people. MINDS Food, MINDS Shop, MINDS Wash, MINDS Craft and MINDS Perform were hence started.

Cha Cha Cottage
Cha Cha cottage is set up by Angella Cheng, who is a single mother, like the people that she wants to help. She wants to improve the lives of these single mothers by providing them the opportunity and assistance in the form of employment. Cha Cha cottage was set up in 2005 and the project has since expanded to include women who are sole breadwinners of their families due to their husbands being unable to work. Cha Cha cottage allows these unskilled single mothers, divorcees widows and unwed mothers to pick up handicraft skills in candle-making, soap-making or jewellery-making and this allows them the flexibility to work from home as most of them have to take care of their children.

World toilet college
The world toilet college professionalise the sanitation and restroom industry. This ensures that the needs, design, maintenance and cleanliness of restrooms receives mainstream attention. The world toilet college by the world toilet organisation aims to address the requirements of both the urban and rural toilets in a holistic manner, an essential hygiene problem that is often overlooked.
The founder of the world toilet college decided to devote his life after attaining financial independence. He established the Restroom Association of Singapore in 1998 with one aim, to break the taboo of toilet and sanitation and legitimise it for mainstream culture. In 2001, the World Toilet Organization is founded and it serves as a global network and service platform where in the various toilet associations, government, UN agencies and toilet stakeholders can learn from one another and use the media and corporate support to influence governments to promote sound sanitation and public health policies.
The World Toilet College, established in 2005, was sta2ted as a social enterprise. It was started with the belief that an independent world needs to ensure the best practices and standards in toilet design; cleanliness and sanitation technologies are adopted and spread through training. This then would ensure that toilets would be better and have a higher standard of hygiene.

How are social enterprises recognized by the community (e.g. donations) and the government (e.g. awards and grants?)

Most of the existing social enterprises would be given awards or grants if they have met the criteria of the awards available. The objective of these awards and grants is to reward these social enterprises for being there for the community and the society. These rewards are normally grants which allow the social enterprise to have a sum of money to fund for a certain social objective the enterprise have or recognition awards where a certain social enterprise is recognised for their service. The grants relieve the social enterprise of financial problems while the awards help the social enterprise to gain and this might result in it being supported by the masses of public by donations or by volunteering themselves to help out.
Recently, a new award to recognise social enterprises for their efforts is launched. It is the president’s challenge 2012 social enterprise award. There is three categories for this award namely- Social enterprise of the year, Social enterprise start up of the year award and Youth social enterprise of the year award. The president’s challenge social enterprise award is first announced in March 2012. Its sole purpose is to identify and recognise successful and sustainable social enterprises which have left a significant impact on the society of Singapore.
žThe community also show their appreciation towards the social enterprises by joining an even
Links:

http://news.xin.msn.com/en/singapore/ntuc-foodfare-appointed-to-manage-bukit-panjang-hawker-centre

http://news.xin.msn.com/en/singapore/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4391704

http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_805843.html

http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_810395.html









Acknowledgements:
wikipedia

google

http://www.ashoka.org/social_entrepreneur

http://www.scribd.com/doc/19468064/A-Guide-to-Social-Enterprises-in-Singapore-6Sep09#

http://www.sehub.com.sg/SEHub/Welcome.html


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