Unlikely Takeover: A Third Way to Scale Social Enterprise

Thursday, May 2, 2013

When we try to scale social enterprise, we usually try one of two paths: growing small organizations or spreading ideas across a range of organizations to scale impact. One path less traveled is to leapfrog through converting a large business into a nonprofit social enterprise, which can more easily and effectively thrive and grow at a larger scale.

There is no practical reason why such a strategy should not be considered more regularly. Large social enterprises are not new, especially in distributed businesses; consider the Cooperative in the UK or Mondragon in Spain, each with US$19B revenue. In the developing world, microfinance has spawned brawny social enterprises like BRAC of Bangladesh, with its half-billion dollars in revenue.

Here’s the story of how Social Ventures Australia led a consortium of nonprofits to create a scale social enterprise out of the wreckage of a bankrupt business, and what lessons can be learned from their efforts.

Source: Nonprofit Quarterly (link opens in a new window)

social enterprise