Social companies can be found in nearly every industry, serving the interests and requirements of their communities and society. This is hardly a surprising trend. Social businesses have shown to be adaptable organizations that address unfulfilled or inadequately fulfilled social needs and create new social opportunities where other actors have failed. They contribute to wise and sustainable growth by considering the environment and social cohesion in their long-term goal, and they are essential actors for the accomplishment of Europe 2020 goals.
But what is actually a social enterprise? A social enterprise is a business with a social mission, where clear-cut social objectives are translated into a firm that frequently engages in activities of general interest and is run entrepreneurially, maintaining a constant balance between its social and economic elements. It can provide answers to social problems through an entrepreneurial approach that is economically sustainable and, in some ways, more effective and efficient than what institutions alone can do. Social enterprises use economic and entrepreneurial tactics to maximize human and environmental well-being benefits, and because of their strong social purpose, profits are mostly reinvested in promoting their social mission.
The fundamental factor that connects most of the social enterprises is the strong desire to address their territory’s social and environmental challenges, namely that entrepreneurship and local development work hand in hand since they are inextricably intertwined. The way social enterprises contribute to promoting sustainability in food production and consumption is a strategy for achieving social goals such as social cohesion, integration, and labor-market access.
While analyzing the function of a social enterprise, five elements can be seen as crucial factors for a transition towards more sustainable food systems.
Inclusion: Social enterprises play a significant role in encouraging community integration. While we are developing sustainable food systems, we can help to create a more inclusive and integrated community. There are numerous efforts that use food as a tool of integration to create value for both the environment and society.
Respect is essential for long-term development. All of the methods base their operations on environmental and community concerns.
Equity is a critical component of a healthy economy. Given that resources are limited and population is expanding, we must learn to share. The cooperative concept has always been about sharing production value.
Responsibility. Making our food system more sustainable necessitates accountability. All of the social entrepreneurs that developed these best practices accepted responsibility for doing more for their community. The objective is not profit or organic food in and of itself, but rather a means of increasing community involvement and relational empowerment.
These good practices being implemented create an excellent opportunity to establish decent and equitable working conditions. These social enterprises have shown to be an effective means of providing new jobs for both young people and people who need to return to work.