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Does CSR activity equate to Corporate Social Entrepreneurship?

I know I am not the only person asking this question but if we are a fan of Covey and we "begin with the end in mind" , is it not true that both CSR and  Corporate Social Entrepreneurship ( CSE) have a common end game of:

1. Addressing a societal concern or issue

2. Running a successful business with an entrepreneurial sustainable spirit

3. Measuring impact to ensure targets and expectations are met

Or do we have a case of both CSR and CSE looking and acting like ducks, but they are really different?

First you need to remove the misconception that a social enterprise is a charity. Social entrepreneurs who may bet set up as NGOs ( one option)  are some of the brightest and best busy savvy entrepreneurs out there on the market today. 


                                        Dubai recently held it's first ever Social Enterprise week

Take a look at this table below:


Social       Enterprise

Socially       Responsible Business

Conventional       For-Profit Business

Mission or start-up       motivation


Socially-driven       with profit concern

Profit-driven       with social concern


Impact       measurement

Impact       on society

Multiple       matrices: profit, social value, environmental     impact

Triple-bottom-line       consideration: economic, social and environmental       sustainability

Revenue,       profit and business-value generating

Primary       funding

Charitable       contribution, public funding, foundation grants, government       support

Self-generated       income, capital investment, loans, partnership,     etc

Self-generated       income, capital investment, loans, partnership,     etc

Self-generated       income, capital investment, loans, partnership,     etc

Profit       distribution

Non-profit, income       generated is distributed to the needy and covers operation       costs

Principally       reinvest to operation to further social benefits. A portion may be       redistributed to stakeholders

Distribute       to owners/ shareholders/

employees,       and to reinvest to business operation and     community

Distribute       to owners/shareholders and reinvest to business       operation

Core       activities

Develop       programs or campaigns to elicit donor participation and/or financial       support

Develop       or promote socially beneficial programs, products or services that provide       revenue streams. Directly address social needs through products and       services or through the employment of disadvantaged       people.


Develop       or promote products or services to generate income while integrating CSR       into core business operation, and committed to community development.       Create positive social change indirectly through the practice of       CSR

Pursue       competitive strategies to launch or promote products or services to       generate income


Looking at the table above, the distinction between a social enterprise and a socially responsible company is small.

Is this because the concepts of CSR and social entrepreneurship have emerged from the same context (sustainable development), which is to promote the achievement of social goals and sustainability through market-based strategies.

However one will note the key difference is a social enterprise directly addresses social/environmental problems or needs through its services/products offered, or through employment of socially disadvantaged groups. Social enterprises use a significant part, if not all, of profits earned to pursue a social mission rather than distribute to shareholders.

A good corporate citizen( CSR) creates indirect positive social solutions, for example, via implementing fair employee welfare schemes, creating a philanthropic foundation, providing employee volunteers for community projects, using energy efficient materials, ensuring an accountable supply chain, or promoting CSR communication.

All different from a traditional non-profit organisations which rely on philanthropic and government support.

Still confused?

You are not alone. I think we have a case of maybe both CSRs and CSEs being ducks but maybe with different stripes?  Regardless, all organisations should strive to operate with a sense of social responsibility, walk the talk, and provide better value to stakeholders while generating income for sustainable growth.  

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