Social Enterprise: Re-Embedding Markets with Social and Cultural Values
24 June 2011 at 4:34 pm
Social enterprise is a way of re-embedding markets with social and cultural values, which have been eroded by neo-liberal economic policies, according to an international expert.
Addressing a Social Enterprise Forum at the Melbourne Business School, Dr Ana Maria Peredo says the global financial crisis has made the world recognise the importance of alternative business models, in particular social enterprise (enterprises that work to create social value).
Dr Peredo is an Associate Professor, Sustainable Entrepreneurship and International Business & Director BC Institute for Co-operative Studies (BCICS) at the University of Victoria in Canada.
Dr Peredo told the forum that the ideas of neo-liberal ideology – that markets could solve everything and that economic growth should be everyone’s objective – along with a neglecting of diversity in economic forms, played a major role in creating the global financial crisis.
She says neo-liberalism has led to dis-embedded markets – creating markets that are less governed by social, political and cultural ideas.
Social enterprise, according to Pereto, is part of the resistance to this , and it works to re-embed markets with social goals and cultural values.
The Social Enterprise Forum was put on by Social Traders and the MBS Asia Pacific Social Impact Leadership Centre, bringing together social entrepreneurs, academics, investors and the community sector.
Earlier Mark Daniels, who works on Social Enterprise Development with Social Traders, told the forum that there are no barriers to the industries in which social enterprises can be established.
Daniels says social enterprise in Australia does face some considerable challenges, particularly around measuring social impact.
He says there is huge question mark around the benefit of social enterprises, and a large amount of work around ‘social return on investment’ needs to be done, if social enterprises are to be able to show their impact.
Daniels warned that if social enterprises are not able to show their returns in social value and well as dollar value, then they will fall off the map.
Daniels says Australia is seeing a new wave of social enterprise, driven largely by the community sector and “no bullshit realists” fighting decline in rural and regional areas. He says innovative Gen Y’s and people fed-up with the “corporate machine” are also behind the rise in social enterprise.
The morning sessions of the forum saw representatives from three very different social enterpises sharing their stories:
- Kere Kere – a social enterprise coffee vendor that allows customers to decide how its profits are distributed, and provides employment for young people finding barriers to finding work. http://www.kerekere.org/
- Hepburn Wind – Australia’s first community owned wind farm, which produced its first electricity on the day of the forum. Owned by the local community around Daylesford through a co-op, the farm will pay dividends to share holders as well as investing in the local community. http://hepburnwind.com.au/
- WISE Employment – provides jobs and training for people with disabilities, long-term unemployed, ex-offenders, people with mental illness, across 35 sites around Australia. WISE Employment has 578 employees and an annual turnover of $54 million across their range of social firms and enterprises. http://www.wiseemployment.com.au/