It’s early days for Human Nature, and lots of things are bubbling away in the background. So far, one of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked is “what does social enterprise mean?”. For me, starting a business was always going to be about something more than making money – the crucial value for me is to make a difference.
Most traditional businesses focus on maximising profits in order to reward shareholders. Social enterprises are different because they use their profits to deliver social or environmental value. This investment can be back into the business – which may deliver direct social or environmental value, or by donating resources (time, skills, material) or funds to charities. There are over 100,000 social enterprises in the UK – the Big Issue, Divine Chocolate and the Eden Project are a few you may have heard of. For more details on social enterprises look here www.socialenterprise.org.uk.
For me, I think of profit as two types of food. Food is sustenance, essential for growth and repair, so too is profit which helps a business be secure and grow its reach or diversify its activities. But food is also gluttony, and we can choose whether to eat a second serving of lunch, or we can give that extra serving to someone in need.
The values of social enterprise are baked into the core of Human Nature: all our activities focus on delivering impact which benefits people and nature. By training individuals and organisations to diversify their skills into social sciences we will enable others to have greater environmental and social benefits through their work. Our research and collaboration work delivers social science research to places where it can have impact in response to the ecological and climate crises. Currently in development are our initiatives to support those motivated to act for the planet, by enabling them to reduce their ecological footprints.
We’re also developing our plans to donate through formal channels, through identifying causes and other organisations who deliver environmental and social impacts. This is an evolving part of Human Nature as we establish our activities and reflect on how best to meet our social enterprise aims, and we’ll post updates in future blogs.
We hope readers will join us on this journey, and we’d love to hear your experiences of working with social enterprises.