Before we understand what social innovation in business is, we first must understand what social innovation is. At its core, social innovation means the development and implementation of solutions to societal and environmental issues. Often these issues are systemic, and for most cases, these are challenging problems. The goal of social innovation is finding a solution and put it to work for social progress.
In simpler terms, doing what’s right for society is social innovation. Social innovation is a part of the Sustainable goals every business has, and just like innovation, social innovation has become the new buzzword.
So, what is social innovation in business? Let’s find out.
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Social Innovation in Business
Looking at a business, its purpose is to provide products or services to people in exchange for money, in other words, to make a profit. However, since every business conducts its operation in society, they have responsibilities and duties to the people of the community.
These responsibilities or duties is also known as Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR). Every business maintains its corporate social responsibilities for several reasons. One of those reasons is to keep up a good image and to increase their goodwill. Another reason is that the business actually cares about the issues that surround our society and environment.
And another reason is that maintaining a low carbon footprint has now become a rule for businesses. Whatever the reason is, be it they actually care, or it’s just for increasing their goodwill, at the end of the day, the society is being benefited. Long ago, large organizations alone used to maintain these responsibilities as a marketing tactic.
However, the landscape has changed, and every business now, be it a startup or a large organization, maintains these social responsibilities. Since the company operates in society and generates revenues from the people of the community, it has now become their responsibility to tackle the many new and existing problems of society.
These new responsibilities have given birth to a new term, CSI, or Corporate Social Innovation. What is means that corporations will use their resources and skills to find a new approach to solving the problems lingering in our society.
How is Social Innovation in Business Different?
Even though corporate social innovation is the new thing, a corporation’s involvement in solving societal issues is nothing new. By maintaining corporate social responsibilities, corporations have played a role in society as well. Through corporate governance, philanthropy, and CSR, corporations have been exercising their citizenship in society for a long time.
However, there is a difference between what the corporations have been doing and what they are doing in terms of social innovation. The difference is that corporations are making tangible benefits while pursuing these societal challenges.
However, the way a business makes these tangible benefits vary from company to company. But all their strategies have some aspects in common. One of the common factors is that the social innovation they are taking part in is now also a part of their innovation agenda, not only their innovation agenda but also their business strategy as well.
Another common factor is that to solve these societal and environmental problems, companies are using their core assets, like technology, human resource, and other assets, which were meant for generating profit to solve these problems.
And since corporate social innovation is now a part of their innovation agenda, companies are managing these innovations from there core operations; this is also another common factor. But what are they gaining from doing these?
By maintaining social innovation, businesses are reaping benefits as well. These benefits include access to other markets and customers, strengthening their supply chain, the retention of talent. All of these combined are having a positive impact on the company’s competitiveness in the long run.
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Business Opportunities in Social Innovation
Now that corporate social innovation has become the new thing, what are the new opportunities for business? Let’s find out.
Social enterprises are the type of business that functions with one goal in mind; that goal is to serve the common people. These businesses produce and sell products and services to generate profit, and the generated profit goes to achieving their goals. Their only target is to give back to society.
Social entrepreneurs refer to entrepreneurs who use their skillset to identify and solve a societal problem. These induvial does so by creating a process, program, or business. Usually, these entrepreneurs work with a non-profit organization but aren’t limited to those.
Usually, non-profit organizations rely heavily on government grants and philanthropy. However, they are no longer limited to those options. Now social enterprises are financing their projects from investors who are coming up with a new structure for financing. As a result, investment for non-profit organizations and social enterprises has become much more available.
Many businesses are becoming eco-friendly, and in many countries, it’s a rule to keep the business carbon footprint to an absolute minimum. As a result, businesses are considering more and more the impact they have on society. That’s why some companies have decided to purchase items that are suitable for the environment.
They are making their purchase decision based on ethics and the impact those materials have on the environment and society. Moreover, they are also ensuring the value for money while making these purchases.
In today’s world, social innovation is all around us. Starting from individuals to large corporations, everyone is practicing social innovation. Many are making the materials need for social innovation much more available. As a result of all of these, everyone, including businesses, can aid in solving the lingering societal and environmental problems, making our community a better place to live in.
In conclusion, practicing social innovation in business is a great way to benefit the company as well as society. Not only can that, through social change, but businesses also earn the trust of the common.
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