SA businesses can now join IDC-backed platform supporting enterprises that make a difference

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Social Enterprise Connect is aimed at recognising, sharing and amplifying the work of social entrepreneurs.
Social Enterprise Connect is aimed at recognising, sharing and amplifying the work of social entrepreneurs.

Social enterprises in South Africa can now become part of a new platform created by the Industrial Development Corporation and the Social Enterprise Academy.

Social Enterprise Connect is aimed at recognising, sharing and amplifying the work of social entrepreneurs in the country where people can discuss needs, problems and solutions within the social impact space. This can be done either face-to-face or online.

"Social enterprises are innovative, independent, impact-focused businesses that exist to deliver a specific social or environmental mission. Their profits are reinvested in this mission. Social enterprise is a dynamic, ethical and more sustainable way of doing business," says Rachael Millson, African partnership director of the Social Enterprise Academy.

According to a statement, Social Enterprise Connect will seek to encourage engagement with policy makers by creating a "critical mass of self-organised voices". Milson explains: 

"Social Entrepreneurs in South Africa often feel very isolated and don't have a support system for the fundamental work that they do on the ground. Social Enterprise Connect will enable these social enterprises to form part of a cohesive and unified movement and will help them to feel less isolated and more supported."

She says both the IDC and SEA strongly feel that social impact organisations have never needed the support and cohesion more than in the current Covid-19 crisis. Furthermore, the importance of peer learning through a model of shared learning within social enterprise is very important.

According to Mtuza Mdletshe, IDC accounts manager of regional programmes, job creation through social enterprise is a key focus of the IDC. 

"We are firm believers that development enterprises need to be more conscious of the direct impact that environmental and social issues have on economic growth and development. Addressing these issues directly provides great opportunities for job creation and economic growth."

Mdletshe adds: "We believe that Social Enterprise Connect is a great vehicle to simultaneously enhance job creation and social impact in South Africa."

Social entrepreneur and founder of The Good Machine, Gita Carroll, believes modern philanthropy needs to be redefined in the new social environment.

"Corporate philanthropy initiatives need to be integrated and consolidated like never before. Every cent and every deed matter," says Carroll.

"Revitalising a business' contribution to society will be essential to navigate the way through. NGOs and corporate donors require agility to adapt according to the new normal."

Carroll adds: "Redefining South Africa is going to depend on, redefining business, which starts with redefining profit. The corporate sector requires a holistic method of corporate social investment (CSI) and ethical business practices creating value beyond profit."

She believes the digital revolution will help make philanthropy reach more people for greater impact, as modern donors want to get involved practically and make a difference, not just give their cash.

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