Program Areas

Program activities described in this section are not comprehensive, rather they relate only to social enterprise programs. All technical program areas have numerous activities not elaborated herein.

Economic Opportunities

Economic opportunities programs focus on starting social enterprises for the express purpose of creating fair-wage jobs or employment opportunities in a geographic target area. Other program activities center on developing transferable skills, job placement, or opportunities that foster self-employment. Economic opportunities programs may be single-focused on business or integrated with other social services such as insurance, literacy, health education, etc.

Community and Rural Development

Community and rural development programs develop community-based social enterprises aimed to provide local jobs, increase purchasing power, reduce urban flight, increase community wealth, and strengthen community cohesion. These social enterprises may be designed as community businesses intended to benefit the entire community by investing surplus revenue in wells, schools, libraries, community centers, gardens, etc., or as more traditional small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs).

Market Development

Market development programs start or support social enterprises that spur and facilitate growth in underdeveloped and under-served markets. These social enterprises operate in markets that are unattractive to private companies due to high market penetration costs (often related to rural distribution and educational marketing), slim margins, or both. The objective is to provide access to vital good and services to marginalized communities while strengthening markets to entice private sector players. Social enterprises working in market development consider private sector competition or cannibalization an exit strategy. Socially responsible fair trade organizations also serve to develop markets, but do not seek to exit markets based on emerging competition.

Access in Under-served Markets

In markets unattractive to the private sector, but where social need and demand coexist, the social enterprise fills a vital niche by providing access to products and services. Poor and rural markets are largely under-served due to high transaction costs, low purchasing, and low margins, making access difficult for many people in need of products and services, such as medical services, health inputs, financial services, etc.

Employment Development

Employment development creates employment and vocational training for disenfranchised, disabled or at-risk populations. These so-called "hard-to-employ" people earn a livable wage and develop marketable skills through their employment in the social enterprise. Employment development models of social enterprises were popularized in the US, and have proven successful in Latin America.

Microenterprise Development

Programs that foster the growth and development of microenterprises (businesses that employ 1-10 people) and self-employed people (microentrepreneurs) through the provision of affordable credit or business support services (training, technology, market information, etc.)

Institutional and Organizational Development

Institutional development programs are aimed at building the capacity of nonprofit organizations to self-govern and become sustainable. In addition to training and technical assistance in organizational development and nonprofit management, programs focus on income-generation and financial self-sufficiency, thus may incorporate social enterprise.