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The Rise of the Social Enterprise

Most charitable organizations are costly to run and passion driven. Unfortunately, charitable and non-profit organizations in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean have faced harsh economic conditions, which have had a devastating impact on their ability to achieve their objectives. Although there is an on-going need for the services offered, the majority of registered organizations are dying, due mostly to their lack of organizational capacity to survive in the current economic environment. They are characterized by small size, limited scope, modest institutional capacity, little collaboration, and fragile structures. Although thousands of these charities, exist in the region, only a small fraction are able to consistently deliver the social impact that their founders intended.

In contrast to the fiscal vulnerability of traditional CSOs, the social enterprise movement is increasing around the world. In 2014 the European Union revealed that social enterprises account for one in four business startups in Europe. In the USA, leading MBA programs have doubled the number of courses they offer on social enterprise. In Barbados the UWI is offering a senior undergraduate course in the Department of Management Studies entitled “Social Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development.”

Neysha Soodeen of Maco Magazine talks to an audience of female founders on creating an impact for Good

Social enterprises are also demonstrating very significant contributions to national economies. By the year 2015 in the UK, 41% of social enterprises created new jobs, compared to 22% of conventional small and medium sized businesses. Further, many social enterprises employ people who are from marginalized groups, such as people living with disabilities.

In an effort to move CSOs into a space where they can more sustainably carry out their mandates TEN Habitat has embarked on a project with the funding support of the European Commission. The project focuses on using startup principles to help charitable organisations and CSOs develop Social Enterprises. The three year project will equip entities and their teams with the tools, skills and structure to develop a more predictable, manageable and sustainable means of financing their activities.

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