A great piece on emerging designs for social businesses by Marjorie Kelly, co-founder of Corporation 20/20, recently appeared in Strategy and Business
Kelly sites three social business models that are proving to be successful:
1. Stakeholder-owned companies, which put ownership in the hands of non-financial stakeholders; 2. Mission-controlled companies, which separate ownership and profits from control and organizational direction; 3. Public-private hybrids, where profit-driven and mission-driven design elements are combined to create unique structures.
Perhaps the best known social business is the mission-controlled company, Grameen Danone, that is driven by the mission of "Fight malnutrition through food."
Grameen Danone must recover its full costs from operations. Yet, like a nonprofit, it is driven by a cause rather than by profit. If all goes well, investors will receive only a token 1 percent annual dividend, with all other profits being plowed back into the business. The venture's primary aim is to create social benefits for those whose lives the company touches.
As traditional business models fail all around us, designers have an opportunity to focus their creativity on base of the pyramid missions, not only because it's the right thing to do, but because it makes financial and technological sense.
Richard Nelson, an economics professor at Columbia University who co-founded the field of evolutionary economics, observes that social systems evolve because of two kinds of innovation: advances in physical technologies (such as new environmental and energy technologies), and advances in social technologies (such as new forms of organization) . . . These designs can be thought of as emergent new organizational species, occupying a new sector of society that is a greenhouse of design experimentation in which the future of our economy may be growing.
So, come on in to the greenhouse, and read the entire article here