If you are a social entrepreneur, a lot is going on in your domain! Eventually, it all boils down between the entrepreneurs, their customers, and other associates. And some might not be a part of the supply chain as well. Today, the domain of social entrepreneurs working with artists and handicraft business owners are increasing. It is expanding at a fast pace and is here to stay. And like every other venture, social entrepreneurship has its challenges as well, which leaves many social entrepreneurs in a dilemma.
Eric Dalius Explains Who is a Social Entrepreneur
Let’s start by understanding the objective and mission of a social entrepreneur? It is to resolve a complicated social issue that might not have a single solution and is usually local. Generating income from a community (which is at an unfavorable spot) by offering correct employment might result in problems like serious social issues. And in the majority of the cases, other than technology, social issues need to get addressed from anthropology, psychology, ecology, sociology, and economics point of view. There’s more that Eric J Dalius thinks about this vertical.
Also, considering the social entrepreneurial perspective, in the majority of cases, the usual business axiom of profit maximization and fast scalability isn’t only the main goals. Even though profit generation isn’t important for surviving, it is essential to ensure long-term sustainability. Furthermore, a social venture is trying to blend in a businesses’ innovation capacity with social service on an ongoing basis. Usually, the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) related activities reign supreme here.
Adding value and improving the communities, while still going after the profits, doesn’t make a social entrepreneur’s task easy! Even though it might be a perfect balance. This duality impacts majority of their decisions associated with cost-efficiency, branding, daily functions, and generating capital from the investors.
The Crucial Challenges to Overcome
Some of the challenges that most social entrepreneurs, according to EJ Dalius, come across sooner or later are:
Not a Flexible Bottom Line
Preserving a venture that’s got its roots in local culture, traditions, and arts via income and livelihood generation, are an essential focus area. Other similar aspects include increasing the health and academic standards, generating environmentally sustainable services and products as well. And such objectives usually aren’t in sync with the cost-optimization procedures that most traditional business organizations follow.
The service or product providers, i.e., the shoemakers, cobblers, or aboriginal artists, need to make use of sustainable materials for work. For instance, they can use plant pigments, cotton fabric and up-cycled rubber tires, jute, and so on. If the labor expenses get reduced, and cheap materials get used, the core objective would get violated. Hence, one has to stay true to the core goal, and that can, at times, lead to an unstable bottom-line.
Localization Vs. Scalability
Scalability in the traditional sense is all about generating more via innovation, automation, and maximizing the workforce while reducing the product expenses. It might apply to the internet, tech, and the majority of product businesses. However, it might not be the best factor for social entrepreneurs. The objective of a social entrepreneur is to address social issues by generating local resources.
Social entrepreneurs need to keep glued on to this objective. And for this, they might need to find ways to resolve the cash issues. For instance, there can be a credits program, where the aboriginal artists are given social points for maintaining specific hygiene and minimizing waste during work. And these points or cash can help them to resolve health and academic requirements in the family. Or they can simply save the capital and use it when there’s a crisis.
However, social entrepreneurs must realize, scalability shouldn’t become anti-sustainability. It is essential to have solutions that can be applied only locally and is also fund worthy. If investors have to ask for the scalable model, things might become slightly challenging. Social entrepreneurs need to attain this objective by not forgetting the essential goals.
The Challenge of Price Competition
The social brands which generate a positive impact and sustainability mission usually don’t make huge profits. The handicraft products or aboriginal artwork that gets ethically created have a higher price than the traditionally manufactured products. And sometimes the customers don’t want to pay more for similar products and goods.
For instance, if social entrepreneurs want to compete with machine-made shoes or bags, then they need to provide products that are user-friendly, functional, and is of good quality. Hence, it is essential to resort to a smart product design along with other innovative ideas to move beyond the price competition. It helps to generate positive feedback about the brands that social entrepreneurs are working with and for.
These are the three crucial challenges or dilemmas that social entrepreneurs face. There are other issues as well, such as lack of adequate capital, smart advertising, and timely delivery in moments of crisis. Social entrepreneurs need to resort to smart thinking and planning to resolve these issues. Also, getting in touch with an expert business coach or counseling experts can social entrepreneurs arrive at a smart business strategy.