I like this definition of ‘social enterprise’ from Social Traders:

Social enterprises are businesses that trade to intentionally tackle social problems, improve communities, provide people access to employment and training, or help the environment.

And part of achieving the outcomes mentioned in that definition, may in fact be about putting the profits from a social enterprise back into the enterprise or into a parent NGO, allowing more independence for that parent NGO than government and philanthropic funding traditionally permits.

But if you’ve always been involved in charities and not-for-profits, the foray into the social enterprise space may seem daunting.

Some time ago we made available on our website a resource (by the same name as this blog post) specifically to help with overcoming that daunting sense.

The resource, Using the Business Model Canvas for Social Enterprise Design, is written by a talented social designer named Ingrid Burkett who is not only a Social Design Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact, she is also a Senior Associate at The Australian Centre for Social Innovation.

And it is perhaps because she has worked across the community services industry, government and the private sector that Ingrid believes each of these three ecosystems has a valuable role to play in social innovation. [source: LinkedIN]

No matter what level of expertise and/or experience you’re coming from, Ingrid’s guide is the ideal place to start designing the business model of your social enterprise.

If you’re a beginner, she delves into the raw details around defining social enterprise, understanding business models and the relationships between these concepts.

Then she introduces the Business Model Canvas.

Some people may have heard of, or even had experience with, the wildly popular concept by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur.

Ingrid’s guide makes no attempt to replace their book on the Business Model Canvas. In fact, she urges people to use her guide as a supplement to it.

This is a step-by-step guide through understanding how to use the Business Model Canvas, including the original resources, as it applies to social enterprises.

The Community Services Industry Alliance. Business Model Canvas

This is a guide to balancing social impact and commerce as you unpack the key elements of a business model:

  • Key partnerships
  • Key activities
  • Value proposition
  • Customer relationships
  • Customer segments
  • Key resources
  • Channels
  • Cost structure
  • Revenue streams.

If you are part of a traditional not-for-profit organisation and you are looking to diversify your income stream through the addition of a social enterprise, we strongly recommend this guide as your starting point.

Please click below to download the guide.


For more information on the Business Model Canvas book by Alexander OSterwalder and Yves Pigneur visit www.businessmodelgeneration.com