They say necessity is the mother of invention. After the recession of 2008, government funding declined for social programs. Despite recovery, we will probably never see the same level of government funding again. The major reason, in my opinion, is that health care costs are expected to grow at twice the rate of state revenue growth over the next 20 years. This is due to an aging population and spiraling health care costs. Have you heard that approximately 8,000 people a day are turning 65?!
What does health care have to do with social enterprise? Well, as a result of government funding cuts there are fewer resources available for human services. Programs that address workforce development Cafe Reconcile , higher education , recidivism rates, poverty, and homelessness are an investment in long-term social and economic growth. These programs are imperative to a healthy society, and can be addressed by successful models of social enterprise.
As one who has been immersed into these social ills of our society, I am passionate about promoting the idea of social enterprise. I have always been entrepreneurial; but, being entrepreneurial AND addressing social ills of our society is a win-win-win. The approach to social enterprise needs to integrate the best practices of the non-profit sector with the business acumen of the for-profit sector. As I have interviewed several senior level executives in the for-profit sector recently, they typically feel that non-profits do not have the business acumen for social enterprise, thus hindering them to achieve important long-term outcomes. There are times I agree with this statement. The non-profit world has long since been known to operate on a shoestring and focus on the mission; this usually meant eliminating best practices used by the for-profit sector. What is the solution if those leading the non-profit organizations in our communities don't have the necessary business acumen? (Stay tuned for Part 2)