Social business is a cause-driven, for-profit, non-dividend business. In a social business, the investors/owners can gradually recoup the money invested, but cannot take any dividend beyond that point. Purpose of the investment is purely to achieve one or more social objectives through the operation of the company; no personal gain is desired by the investors. The company must cover all costs and make profit, at the same time achieve the social objective, such as, healthcare for the poor, housing for the poor, financial services for the poor, nutrition for malnourished children, providing safe drinking water, introducing renewable energy, etc. in a business way.
The impact of the business on people or environment, rather the amount of profit made in a given period measures the success of social business. Sustainability of the company indicates that it is running as a business. The objective of the company is to achieve social goals.
Within our economic system, there are currently two prevailing approaches to organizations. The first is that of the private sector where companies sell products or services to make money. However, there are important issues in our society which are not addressed by the private sector because they do not offer profit-making opportunities. This usually leads to government interventions to create legal and institutional frameworks to advance the common good and to protect the interests of weaker members of society.
Where both governments and the markets reach their limits, charities may fill the gap. The problem is, of course, that the system does not work well enough. We live in a world of terrible injustice and widespread poverty. Governments and charities have the will to improve it, but they lack the efficiency and innovativeness of the private sector. So why not combine the two sides?
Let’s bring the methods of business to the task of solving social problems such as poverty and create – social businesses!