As a social entrepreneur you will need to partner with different sections of society at some point of time. Teaming up with disadvantaged groups of people like farmers, visually impaired or physically disabled to produce goods and services is just one aspect of your venture. You also need financers and buyers for your products/services. This is where corporate partnerships come in to the picture.
Corporate organizations are an ace in every social entrepreneur’s pack of cards. Here’s how…
CSR is “Big”
CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is the buzz word now. As more and more people talk about companies giving back to society in terms of the need for such initiatives and how they can be carried out, corporate organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of CSR in building their image.
Companies are now partnering with social enterprises in establishing crÃ¨ches for employee’s children, training to disadvantaged groups of people, recycling, funding social endeavors and buying products manufactured by social enterprises.
They have the Money for It
Companies these days have a budgetary allocation towards CSR and this is good news for social enterprises. The monetary provision made for CSR is used in many ways; some part of it may be utilized to buy products from social enterprises.
For instance eCoexist, a for profit social enterprise based in Pune supplies cloth bags, folders and pens to companies for their conferences and meets. This is a pleasant change from plastic folders and pens ordered from the stationary store as eCoexist products are eco-friendly and made by self-help groups from urban and rural India.
In doing this companies are putting their budgetary allocations to good use…buying the necessary products, reducing their carbon print and giving back to society…all at the same time.
Conferences, Meets and Corporate Gifts
Corporate organizations are big consumers. Given the fact that they have a number of employees and customers for whom they have to have events from time to time, they have more occasions to play buyers themselves. Stationary material for meetings and conferences, gifts for customers, employees and dealers are just some items on which almost every corporate spends a fixed amount every year.
As a social entrepreneur, your task is to determine the needs of corporate players and fill in the gap with your products. Even a simple endeavor like supplying areca nut plates and bowls to the company canteens will help reduce the use of plastic plates and bowls or help conserve water which is used to wash regular plates and bowls.
It’s a Win-Win Situation
The Social Enterprise- Corporate partnership is a win-win situation. Companies score brownie points while using products manufactured by social enterprises on the public relations front and end up using their money for many good causes. While social enterprises gain from bulk orders placed by them and are able to attract more corporate buyers simply because a certain company is already buying from them.
A Huge Plus in “Brand Building”
Partnering with social enterprises has now become a big part of the brand building strategy being employed by companies. Using eco-friendly Holi colors for company celebrations is one such move that comes to mind. In India, Holi, the Festival of Colors is celebrated across the country and community celebrations are the order of the day, whether at home or at work.
A pioneering effort in this direction has been the use of natural Holi colors marketed under the Rang Dular, brand name by eCoexist. Many companies in Pune city have been using these colors to celebrate Holi with their employees. A company that promotes “green” festivities is bound to have a positive image opposed to one that doesn’t consider the environmental impact of its activities.
Having said that, looking for networking opportunities in the social sector is not an insurmountable task; online support networks and resources are here to help you in your search. All you have to do is reach out, pull out the ace and play your cards well!