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Nigerian Social Enterprises
There are many examples of Nigerian social enterprises. Some of them are still in their early days and have not scaled their #business model for maximum social impact yet. Here are two examples:
DMT mobile and portable toilets. The company was set up in 1992 by Isaac Durojaiye. The mission of DMT according to their website is to primarily create social value by providing top quality, affordable and mobile toilets to maintain a cleaner and healthier environment. They al
so employ young street boys and train them to maintain the toilets, thereby keeping them off the streets. Read more at http://www.dmttoilets.com/aboutus.htm
WAVE-West Africa Vocational Education. WAVE was set up to “up-skill” West African youth and place them in stable jobs mainly in frontline hospitality and retail jobs. The organization is headed by the CEO Misan Rewane. The idea is to restore the dignity and enhance the livelihoods of West African youths. Read more at http://waveacademies.org/about/
For-profit or Not-for-profit?
One misconception about social enterprises is that it is always a not-for-profit legal entity. This is not the case. Social enterprises can be for-profit or not-for-profit. In my definition of social enterprises I mentioned that these organizations are revenue generating. It must be made clear at this point that for-profit and not-for-profit organizations both generate revenue for their operations, activities, staff salaries etc. The only difference between the two is that for-profit organizations share their profit among individual owners whereas not-for-profit organizations recycle their profit to go back into the organizational activities. This is because a not-for-profit is a public organization-not owned by any individual or set of individuals.
Therefore, whether a social enterprise is profit making or not-for-profit is irrelevant. It is still a social enterprise in each case because of its market-driven approach to social change.
What distinguishes a social enterprise from traditional not-for-profit NGOs?
Social enterprises are different from traditional not-for-profit organizations. Although both organizations may work towards social change and seek to create social value, the approach is different. Traditional not-for-profits typically rely on funds from foundations, government agencies and individual donors to implement social impact projects. They do not receive funding from venture capitalists or banks. They always take the form of not-for-profit legal entities. Social enterprises on the other hand use entrepreneurial or market driven tools to create social change and usually on a larger scale (through expansion or replicating the same model elsewhere) so they can create a new market equilibrium. Unlike traditional not-for-profit NGOs, social enterprises can share profit among owners if they choose to adopt a for-profit legal structure.
Encouraging Social #Entrepreneurship and Attracting Talent
The social enterprise model has enormous potential to solve many of today’s problems in a world where governments are overwhelmed with global and local concerns. Top business schools and universities such as Harvard Business School, and Stanford University teach social entrepreneurship. Philanthropists and businessmen who have foundations such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg seek out social entrepreneurs with bold ideas that can solve social problems such as access to quality education, clean air and water, quality healthcare, economic empowerment etc.
In Nigeria too, we are witnessing the emergence of different yearly business competitions and training opportunities designed to encourage business entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs alike. Examples include the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP), LEAP Africa’s Social Innovators Fellowship Programme and the Pat Utomi Business Plan Writing Competition. Similar platforms like the ones above should be encouraged in order to attract the right type of personality and value orientation that is required for successful social entrepreneurship – people who have pioneering and scalable ideas that can solve some of Africa’s most pressing issues.