Abridged excerpt from book “51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship“.

CSR and Social Enterprise

Corporate social responsibility (CSR, also called corporate conscience, corporate citizenship or responsible business) is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. CSR policy functions as a self-regulatory mechanism whereby a business monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards and national or international norms.

We may see the lines blur between CSR and social enterprise examples we have been talking about.Right now though, one way to distinguish the two is to think about the role impact plays. Is the company “impact first,” i.e., impact is the primary goal or on par with profit, or is impact considered after the company pursues a strong bottom line?  If the organization is “impact first,” then it suggests a social enterprise. If impact is secondary, then you’re likely looking at corporate social responsibility measures that leverage a corporation’s resources, workforce, products, and services for charitable or social impact initiatives.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Maybe you’re wondering what CSR actually looks like. More and more corporations each year are releasing Sustainability or Impact Reports. Seeing some of these can contextualize the disruptive role that CSR plays in the social impact sector.

Take Walmart, for example. It is currently the world’s largest retailer and the go-to place for 25% of Americans (and closer to 50% of 29 markets worldwide) to buy their groceries. It has 11,000 retail locations, employs more than 2 million people, and contracts with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions.  You can see that even small shifts in the Walmart Supply Chain can ripple to create massive impact. And that’s how CSR initiatives can mean big-time net impact.

According to Walmart’s 2015 Global Responsibility Report, the company estimated sourcing goods from 1 million farmers from emerging markets globally and giving $1 billion in food contributions to address hunger alleviation by the close of the year. Few, if any, companies could ever scale the kind of impact that a huge, global company like Walmart can with a few tweaks to their manufacturing, production, sourcing, or distribution.


image of "51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship"

This is an abridged excerpt from the book, “51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship” by Neetal Parekh. You can learn more and buy the entire book—which is told as a story of three aspiring social entrepreneurs and which dives into key aspects of social entrepreneurship including defining the space, legal structures, securing funding, and measuring impact at 51questions.com

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