In the Netherlands there is a national organization dedicated to promoting and supporting social enterprise.
They recently released a report that documents how leading social enterprises in their country are affecting the way business is done. Those social enterprises, by doing business the right way, are leading by example.
I particularly like their analysis which indicates that social enterprise can effect change in three ways:
- Raising the possible are the activities that show how business can be done responsibly, so that other businesses can choose to adopt those sustainable practices as well.
- Raising the desirable are the activities that change norms and values in society and increase cultural pressures, which motivates executives to act sustainably.
- Raising the acceptable are the activities that contribute to higher institutionalized, formal standards, so that it becomes unacceptable not to adopt more sustainable practices.
To paraphrase, social enterprises can show what is can be done, they can challenge existing business practices and they can actually set the bar higher for other businesses to emulate.
The report is full of excellent resources, ideas, and indications of what success looks like for any social enterprise. It offers an aspiration view for social entrepreneurs wishing to grow their social impact.
Social Delta recommends it as inspirational (yet practical) reading. Download it or read it online for free here.