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Policy Papers and Research

Legal Forms for Social Enterprises in South Africa

A social enterprise is an organization that generates the majority of its income through business activities and utilizes its profits to further its social (or environmental) purpose.

This article discusses the two types of legal forms available to social enterprises. It highlights some of the opportunities for either to earn income and attract investment, and dispelled some misconceptions. Social enterprises can be successful as long as they learn to exploit the full potential of their legal forms and setup effective governance systems.

Read more: Legal Forms for Social Enterprises in South Africa

Creating “organisational sustainability”

Non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa are desperately striving to become “sustainable”.

Strategists recognize that no organization can ever truly “become sustainable”. All it can do its move forward constructively, manage its risks and strive to reduce its negative impact on the world. 

Adopting a broad view on “sustainability”, and thinking clearly about its components, will make it much easier for organizations to fully embrace it.

Measuring Social Impact Can Revolutionise Organisations

"What if I told you that there is an underused tool that can help your organisation stretch limited resources to better serve more individuals and increase your overall impact? You might be skeptical - but it's true! Through research conducted with South African social enterprises, I found that impact assessments can revolutionise the way that you do business and create change.

Measuring social impact, or impact assessment, is the process of understanding the changes achieved as a result of your organisation's work. It can be used to validate your impact, make better strategic decisions, gain credibility with stakeholders and secure future funding."
1. Validate your impact
2. Make better strategic decisions
3. Gain credibility with stakeholders
4. Secure future funding

Read More on Measuring social impact in Social Enterprise Academy

How To Measure Social Impact: New Research And Insights

"Big data analytics is often not very relevant to determining the social impact of most social purpose organizations because the scope of work is usually small and local. It is sometimes used in fundraising in large organizations which is too often consuming more focus than the primary purpose of the organization which is to provide greater social impact.

The need for better clarity on mission and the proper data to collect is one of the biggest challenges. And where appropriate, big data can be useful. Many organizations have few measurements in place and rely on anecdotes for their evidence and for their reporting to the public and their various stakeholders. An increasing number of nonprofits have developed measures of the outputs of their organizational activities. But we know that measuring outputs is not the same as measuring success on the goal of increasing social impacts.

The goals should not typically be about measuring numbers of children in school (outputs) but rather how many are better educated and better able to achieve a set of life goals possibly including employability (impacts). This should not be about collecting more data but rather about collecting and properly analyzing the data that matters and is more relevant to the project’s or organization’s objectives."

Organizations need to be more focused on what data should be collected and only collect that data that will aid in the decision making and reporting of impacts rather than collecting large amounts of data that will not be useful for improving the organizational impacts.

Read more about how to measure social impact by Forbes via The Arc Training

A Guide to Measuring Social Impact By Bev Meldrum, Pete Read and Colin Harrison

"‘Social impact’ is about telling the story of the changes we bring to people’s lives and organisations. Sometimes these are harder to measure and are thus sometimes called ‘soft outcomes’. Moreover, little of it can be counted in the same way. We have to find another way to measure it. If we have written out our social aims then we have statements about what we are trying to achieve, such as: - to empower young people to achieve their potential, - to enable older people to play an active part in their communities, - to promote healthy eating. The key to the process is a four step model to turn your aims and objectives into ‘indicators’. These consist of descriptors that show how this may be recognised at various levels. Recording these at the start and finish of the change process will indicate the distance travelled during that process."

Read more in this practical guide on measuring social impact by Bev Meldrum, Pete Read and Colin Harrison.

How to measure your social impact

"Measuring social impact can be both complex and expensive. We round up our experts' advice about how you can avoid the pitfalls"

Read more on how to measure your social impact in The Guardian

How can corporates support social enterprises in South Africa?

By Rachael Millson, African Partnerships Director, Social Enterprise Academy South Africa. (Social Enterprise Academy South Africa is the knowledge partner for the Social Enterprise topic on the Trialogue Knowledge Hub.) In this article, she looks at how corporates can support the rapidly growing social enterprise sector in South Africa.

Social enterprises – businesses that sell goods and services for-benefit rather than purely for-profit –provide a unique opportunity to solve many of the prevalent social and environmental problems in South Africa, whilst at the same time contributing to economic growth and job creation.

Social enterprises come in many different shapes and forms. Nonetheless they all face the same fundamental question. Can they generate enough revenue and attract enough investment to cover their costs and grow their activities, and therefore their social impact?

Read more: How can corporates support social enterprises in South Africa?