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The Rise of Social Entrepreneurship

Posted 10th March 2021
By David Langdown

As we went into the Covid crisis we knew trends that had already started would accelerate. This has become very evident in areas like the shift to e-commerce, the demise of several High Street brands and changes to working practices, such as the increase in flexibility, agility and working from anywhere, many of which will never revert to pre-pandemic ways.

Whilst these changes may be obvious, we have been running many workshops with new and existing clients who recognise that more subtle yet fundamental shifts are happening. These are shifts that are creating the new commercial environment, a 21st century model. 

Underpinning this has been a change in mindset. There has been, at a societal level, a re-evaluation of what is really important to us, a desire to create a better, fairer world for everyone, to not only stop damaging our planet but to start cleaning it up and preserving it for future generations, to rebuild communities and to address issues like hunger, lack of education, homelessness and disease. Governments will never truly address these issues and business brands are taking a lead.

They recognise the pursuit of profit for profit’s sake is no longer ok in the consumers’ eyes. Purpose is the new currency and legacy is the KPI by which we will be judged.

In our workshop process, during which we immerse in our clients’ business to get to the heart of it, we look for their purpose. We want to know what they do, but more importantly, why they do it. What is the outcome for their customers that will encourage them to buy from them, or their employees to work for them?

It is a surprisingly difficult process for a lot of people, particularly when they have been beaten down by challenges and they can’t remember what it felt like or the passion that really drove them when they set out to build their own business.

Today’s successful business founders have no such problems because they are Social Entrepreneurs, or socialpreneurs for short. 


A socialpreneur:

[noun]  a person that sets out on an entrepreneurial venture with the intention of addressing social issues and contributing to the social good. Their businesses can have a for-profit, non-profit, or hybrid model.


Socialpreneurs are less interested in defining their successes through high profit margins, but rather by how their operations benefit communities of interest, through purpose. 

Here are some great examples of social entrepreneurship in the UK.


Cracked It

Cracked It is a London-based organisation that pioneered a unique workplace phone repair service to upgrade broken tech and upskill young people with convictions. Cracked It says that it is devoting all of its resources to incubating new projects to seed systemic change beyond Cracked It’s lifetime. Through their purpose, they have featured on the BBC and multiple national newspapers, and they have secured work from dozens of blue chip businesses.


Belu

Belu sources and provides water with the lowest possible carbon footprint to hotels, restaurants, and catering businesses. 100% of net profits are donated to WaterAid, a business that provides clean water solutions to underserved communities. Belu has donated over £5m so far and has won dozens of National awards for CSR and Social Enterprise.


TOMS

TOMS arguably put social entrepreneurship on the map. It started as a one-for-one model; Buy a pair of shoes, and TOMS would give a pair to a child in need. Today, buying a pair of TOMS shoes or sunglasses provides shoes, sight, water, safe birth, and bullying prevention services to people across the globe.


LUSH

LUSH, the cosmetics company, cites environmental awareness and ethical consumerism as its bedrocks. All Lush cosmetics use minimal or no packaging, contain vegetarian ingredients, are produced with renewable energies and the company gives millions to environmental causes each year.


Lush says on its website, “Lush believes in the right to make a profit, but when making major business considerations and adjustments, all aspects of Lush’s core values will be discussed and kept in mind.  A balanced Lush business will always try to find profit whilst upholding the core values.”

That is an approach that we wholeheartedly support and that represents the combination of social responsibility, purpose and entrepreneurship that the 21st century model is based upon.

If you would like to join us for a workshop in which we will help you to discover or rediscover the purpose for you and your business, please get in touch with me or David Langdown (david@focus7int.com) and we’ll be delighted to help.

CMO at Focus7

David Langdown is co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Focus7, a purpose-driven, brand-led growth agency. David has been a Fellow of the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing since 2003. He has an Advanced Professional Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling and is a practising counsellor.

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