Companies are in the race to move beyond Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to integrate sustainability goals into their strategy. In this article, we will explain why partnering with social enterprises is an effective tactic and arm you with the knowledge to form a strategy that works for your business.
Firms tend to focus on visible public goals that people can easily recognise and engage with. The goals include but are not limited to those set out by the United Nations and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 1 for No Poverty, SDG 8 on Decent Work, 10 on Reduced Inequalities, and 13 on Climate Action are popular mantles for companies to take on, although there are many more for them to choose from.
Companies are efficient, highly knowledgeable, have extensive personal and international networks, and an ability to get things done. Social enterprises are purposeful, driven, draw public support, and operate outside the constraints of governmental policy or economic restrictions. The two are a natural fit for collaborations.
That is why, increasingly, companies are teaming up with social enterprises to meaningfully address issues. Here are some of the tangible benefits to forming partnerships like this.
Greater market reach
According to Resonance, the majority of companies serve only 30% of the world’s population, leaving about 6 billion people untouched. These often include those below the poverty line or in geographically challenging areas. However, these markets offer long-term opportunities.
With their connections to local networks, social enterprises help companies reach these markets, offering deep insight into the needs, wants, and behaviours of the potentially profitable markets, while helping companies achieve their goals. These social enterprises also provide basic knowledge of the legal, regulatory, and political aspects of the markets.
As social enterprises operate on the front lines, companies can benefit from innovations while watching from afar. Social enterprises are, by nature, eager to experiment and take risks. Through partnerships, social enterprises will provide companies with insights on what works and what does not in approaching emerging and geographically challenging markets.
Reduced supply chain risks
By partnering with social enterprises, companies can also minimise the supply chain risks they have to face. As discussed above, social enterprises can provide companies with insights into the data of emerging markets that may otherwise be unobservable without access to local communities. As above, social enterprises that are embedded in local communities can provide data on the behaviour, preferences, and buying choices in emerging markets.
More attractive to the workforce
Partnerships with social enterprises are almost always investments in sustainability and social impact. According to recent surveys, 53% of the workforce in the UK and over 70% of millennial workers in the US said corporate sustainability is one of the key factors in deciding where they want to work, signalling a growing awareness in the youths. Therefore, companies actively participating in making the world a better place, be it from an environmental or social perspective, are more attractive to the workforce of the future.
More attractive to the general market
Similarly, more and more people are becoming aware of the issue of social and environmental sustainability. A growing number of consumers and B2B partners take into consideration company sustainability performance prior to making purchases and partnership proposals. By building an image of a company that cares about environmental and social issues, businesses can secure their place in the market of the future.
Building an image is one thing; building an image with evidenced results and increased business success - that is a market-winner.