Earlier I had described the benefits of a social enterprise survey (part 1). In part 2 and part 3 I talked about our approach to identify potential respondents and the challenges of collecting a sufficient number of responses. In part 4 I reflected on how to target the right kind of organizations for this survey and on how to improve the response rate. In part 5, I analysed the response rate and pointed to some of the limitations of this survey.
Below I summarize the findings of our social enterprise survey: 1. Who are the entrepreneurs? 2. Values and social impact 3. Innovation and growth 4.Finance and capacity 5. Eco-system.
1. Who are the entrepreneurs?
We analysed responses from green and social entrepreneurs separately expecting to see differences in their strategies and business models. We had defined green entrepreneurs as those entrepreneurs that focusing on environmental impact (‘eco-entrepreneurs’) or as integrating social, environmental and innovative aspects into one single company (‘sustainability entrepreneurs’, Parrish 2008 and see discussion on definitions in part 4 of this blog series). Green entrepreneurs in our sample include businesses in the field of smart agriculture, organic textile, sustainable consumptions or ecological tourism.
Operations of social entrepreneurs in our sample range from crowd funding for social projects and organisations, the creation of income generating opportunities for women and other disadvantaged groups, work with youth and children, volunteering to a time banking system promoting an alternative economy or a women health and sports franchise company run by and for women.
2. Values and social impact
First, we looked for underlying motivations and values that drive respondents’ business models and activities.
Table 2 provides responses on fundamental issues and key drivers of an organisation’s business strategy. It is interesting to note that 31% rather agree or fully agree with the statement that value driven organisations should not generate revenues nor charge for goods and services, but only 25% support the argument that such organisations should not make a profit even if it was reinvested for social purposes. More than half of respondents (55%) would not consider external finance (debt, equity, venture capital business angels) as a financing option.
Furthermore, most respondents in our sample (95%) see themselves as pioneers and innovators in their respective fields; express optimism about their ability to reach their objectives (87%); claim to integrate environmental sustainability in their processes and objectives (82%); consider collaboration important for their success (94%); state that they manage their organisations based on an social impact oriented business plan (76%).
Table 2: Drivers of business strategy
Secondly, we analysed the role of social impact monitoring and measurement.
3. Innovation and growth
We aimed at understanding what challenges organisations faced during different phases of the innovation lifecycle, what growth strategies they apply, which growth constraints they face, as well as the way they diffuse innovation.
4. Finance and capacity
We wanted to find out what respondents’ financial situation was, whether they had specific financing needs, if so which type of financing they would be looking for and what constraints they were facing in accessing finance. We also sought to identify their non-financial needs and capacity constraints.
We wanted to find out to how social enterprises connected with other actors, which support structures they benefit from and what they expected from government.
Download survey findings as ppt presentation here!
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