Social enterprises led by philanthropists like Jonah Engler and others have always led to social changes. Visionaries and social entrepreneurs are the necessary catalysts that bring about changes for the betterment of humankind on a global scale.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently facing a severe economic crisis. Market growth has been reduced to zero, there is minimum trade, routes, and supply lines have vanished, and production is at an all-time minimum. It is the same case all around the world. This is uncharted territory, and no one has ever experienced times like these.
Thus, the time is right for social and economic experimentation. The time is right for social entrepreneurship ventures on a global scale. The global pandemic has been an eye-opener of sorts, and realizations were acute regarding the social and economic fairness of the prevailing system all across the world.
No one is immune to the virus, yet to a significant part of the human society fending for even the most basic civic amenities has been a trying task. Social enterprises are the perfect answer when providing long-term support to the less fortunate and the economically backward strata of society.
Jonah Engler examines how can crises lead to philanthropy?
Social change and crisis go hand in hand; this has been the case since time immemorial. It always takes some sort of acute national or global economic downturn to pave avenues for social entrepreneurship. And, historically, it has always the social enterprises that work actively to bring about the change.
The entire premise of a social enterprise is based on the motto that businesses don’t always have to think about accumulating wealth and generating profits; it can also be about giving back to society. Entrepreneurs are, by default, keyed-in to the various problems that plague the community as a whole. In the times of economic downturn, the market demand doesn’t vanish, but the means to produce and purchase might.
Why are social enterprises the answer?
This is where a social enterprise can step in to get a large number of consumers through the times of financial crisis and recession. So, the critical step is the identification of the disproportionate effect of the economic or health calamity and streamlining market-driven methods to address the issues as soon as possible. Low costs of labor, tax benefits, cheaper supplies, and customer care and loyalty are some of the hallmarks of a successful social venture.
The coronavirus hit us hard and quick. The effect was not only on schools and educational institutions. Every office, banks, stores, retailers and even online repositories came to a standstill. Social distancing and lockdown measures meant that also, the workforce had to start working from home. This is where social enterprises have stepped in with AI-driven education and other services.
As the world slowly realizes the gravity of the situation and the lasting impact this crisis is going to have on the world, social enterprises will grow and solve several problems associated with poverty, education, health, and overall quality of life in several backward and less-developed parts of the world.
Social enterprises – The fight that lies ahead
It goes without saying that nothing could have prepared us for a health crisis of this magnitude, not when the last similar incident was a hundred years back. However, with the magnitude of the problems that the human society as a whole is facing right now, the need of the hour is to adapt and persevere with patience. There will be obstacles, but in the end, the pay-off will be far more significant since you can directly affect society and make the world a better place to live in.
In real terms, the COVID-19 crisis has affected the financial, health, and social life of certain sections of the society more acutely than others. Individuals belonging to the marginalized class are in the thick of it all with no immediate respite in sight. The economy and the labor markets were already polarized, to begin with, and COVID-19 has allowed everyone to clearly see the more significant impact of the virus on the low income, indigenous and immigrant population.
The primary target of social enterprise ventures is the betterment of the quality of life of these backward segments of society. Removal of the acute financial strains, impacts on livelihood, education, and job losses along with contracting various infectious and debilitating diseases; there are several goals to work on.
Yes, even with the general consensus being that of “this was an unprecedented event,” the economic and social disparity between certain classes of the society couldn’t have been more obvious. Keep in mind that social injustice and public health are two sides of the same coin, and they are linked with each other. Only with the proper recognition of the problem can appreciation for social enterprises happen.
Social enterprises have unique funding opportunities
As stated in the previous section, social enterprises are a direct result of the prevailing social injustices and issues all around the world. With increasing awareness, novel funding opportunities also increase, and in turn, all the aid can be generated with any start-up or existing social enterprise looking to diversify. Several foods and emergency social enterprises are working in and out of Australia that is crowdfunded or funded by philanthropists. Most of these concerns are for relief packages and public services and are therefore gaining popularity all over.
Keep in mind that due to the social nature of the concerns, financial responses are reasonably quick even in this market crisis and scenario. There are several government offices as well as local agencies that are rallying forces to build better concerns and sustainable ventures for society building, better healthcare, and other high-value services. The philanthropic nature of the venture means restrictions to grants are virtually nil along with fast payments and processing.
Connectivity is the key to social enterprises
It is needless to say that productivity has been affected the most due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, since most of the population and, therefore, the workforce has been forced into self-isolating environments, this has brought about a boost in connectivity and engagement. Even the most physically distant organizations or firms are working hand in hand to find out unique solutions to serious global problems. Social entrepreneurs are allowing the world the much-needed respite as it tries to restore order and return to a semblance of normalcy.