In 2011, the European Commission launched The Social Business Initiative to improve the access to finance, give more visibility to social enterprises and optimize the legal environment. With a social enterprise, whose primary objective is to achieve social impact rather than generating profit for owners and shareholders in a transparent and innovative way – this would not only provide fruitful for their local society as they are presenting a product that will benefit them in a way, but it would also create a sustainable business model that redirects all profits into organic company growth and impact reach. Furthermore, social enterprises are known to play a key role in workplace inclusion due to their emphasis on people and social cohesion, creating jobs for women, the youth and the elder.
This initiative is part of the Europe 2020 Strategy to transform the social and economical current situation. Taking the concept to action, there is a case of a business that launched an innovative concept of water-free car washing services in France in 2004 with biodegradable products and employed unqualified and marginalized staff to reintegrate them to the labor market. The company was tackling two problems at once – socially and environmentally – which resulted in their growth through Europe as one of the most recognized go-to car wash due to their lower pricing. When employees feel good about the work they do, it reflects on other people and their surroundings – a catalyst for them to perform better in reliability and consistency in their work.
At this point over €100 M have been mobilized to help social enterprises development through quasi-loan instruments from 2014-2020 as well as private investments and ‘social stock exchanges’ that allows the trading of shares in social enterprises on a Financial Services Authority regulated stock exchange.
Such an ongoing initiative that is relevant now more than ever is key in the betterment and reshaping of how we do business today – moving past the consumerist behavior to the creation and entrepreneurial mindset.