By Antoine Didienne
Social enterprises, for-benefit companies, benefit corporations, hybrid companies and not-only-for-profits are all new terms describing a type of for-profit company that has the goal of improving a social concern. Many people don’t understand what these entities actually do or even what they are. Let's change that.
Let’s start by picking a term we can use while discussing these entities. The term I’ve chosen is social enterprise. Social enterprises are companies that aim to make a profit and solve a human or environmental problem at the same time. They combine goodwill and profit to solve the world's most important problems. They often combine the best parts of what nonprofits and regular companies have to offer.
Unlike regular companies, social enterprises serve their mission first, not their shareholders. The products or services they sell are only a means to an end to achieve their mission of making the world a better place. The social enterprise is the end product of the public, private and social sectors meshing into each other; they are the new “fourth sector” of the economy.
People want to know about the products they use, the food they eat, the services they purchase. Awareness of what is purchased and how it fits into the consumers’ personal mission is now more than a trend.
All this is to say that the social enterprise is the future of commerce. At their core, these companies are created to care about the products they sell, the customers the serve and the world they are a part of. That’s why we have created Vavavida -- a company that aims to sell beautiful, handmade jewelry and empower women to realize their full potential. Because we care and saw an opportunity to create change. It's a wonderful time to be part of this swelling, lasting movement.
Image credit: Vavavida
Antoine Didienne is the founder of Vavavida, a fair trade and ecofriendly accessories company.