Business With A Cause - Let's Talk Social Enterprises

by margaret turner

FLOW calls itself a social enterprise, or a double bottom line business.  Let’s talk about what that means.

Social enterprise has been around for decades, or even centuries.  But the discussion of the phenomenon in business circles is more recent.

Social enterprises are mission-driven organizations that apply market-based strategies to achieve a social purpose.* The social mission is fundamental and central to a social enterprise:  the goal is to make a difference, not simply to create wealth.  For a social enterprise, wealth is a means to an end and enables the enterprise to achieve the goal of social change.  Success is measured by the creation of social value or social change—or in other words, a positive return to society.

Social enterprise combines the passion of a social mission with business-like discipline, innovation and determination.**  Social enterprises can be not-for-profits, for-profits, or hybrids of the two. 

Why do we call FLOW a social enterprise?

Because we’re not just about making money:  we’re about making a difference.  Our mission is to make a difference in the lives of women who need change in their lives, and in their social and economic situations.  So while we run our business on a for-profit basis, we use the profits to make positive change in our world and our community.

That’s why we invest a portion of FLOW’s profits in The Hunger Project-Canada.   The mission of The Hunger Project (THP) is to end hunger and poverty by pioneering sustainable, grassroots, women-centered strategies and advocating for their widespread adoption in countries throughout the world.  THP-Canada is one of the eighteen affiliated partner countries that raise funds for THP programming in the developing world.
THP firmly believes that empowering women to be key change agents is an essential element in achieving the end of hunger and poverty.  Research shows that when women are supported and empowered, their communities become more resilient:   families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase.   In short, communities become more resilient.

According to FLOW’s values, our success is measured by the creation of social value.  So we’re investing in the millions of women and men who are working to lead lives of self-reliance.  The return on our investment?  Check out THP’s website to see the ways that our investment will create and sustain social change.  

We’re open to other ideas, particularly for a local project we can support.  So we’d like to hear from you about how we can change the world, one life at a time.   We think many hands make light work, and we’d welcome your help as we look for the most effective methods of serving our social mission. 

At FLOW we think social enterprise is an idea whose time has come.   We believe that if we act on our passions, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish or who we can help.  That’s why FLOW exists.

Maybe you’re interested in our mission and want to help.  Or maybe you want to join the conversation.  Let’s talk--

*Canadian Social Enterpreneurship Foundation.
** “The Meaning of ‘Social Entrepreneurship’”, J. Gregory Dees.