Thoughts on the Social Economy Strategy in South Africa

The South African government is busy developing a strategy to help cultivate the social economy in the country.

I’ve been fortunate to contribute to the strategic process – I’ve been interviewed several times and shared some written insights with the project team.

At the time of writing this article (February 2019), the government has commissioned a Green Paper on the Social Economy – a draft set of policy proposals for discussion. Green Papers tend to be followed by White Papers or official policy documents.

Since this strategy has been on my mind recently, I took a moment to record my thoughts and share them online and with the policy team. I’m also curious about what form you think the Social Economy Strategy should take.

End-of-year reflection for 2018

The end of another year is approaching. It has been a challenging year, filled with meaningful work, many lessons and lots of opportunity. There has also been too little time to do everything I’d intended to do.

I believe strongly in the value of reflection and always do a formal debriefing at the end of the year.

Here are some of my thoughts on 2018 before I take leave on Friday 14th December to enjoy a much-needed break. It sheds some light into my work with non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa, and things I’ve learned along the way.

Social enterprise: converging social and profit missions

Trialogue published the 21st edition of the Business in Society Handbook (formally the CSI Handbook) in November 2018.

I contributed to a Q&A on social enterprise. Read my answers on the nature of social enterprise in South Africa, the challenges they are facing, and the opportunities for businesses to partner with them.

End-of-year reflection for 2017

The end of the year is approaching once again. Time seems to be “accelerating” recently.

I strongly believe in the value of debriefs at the end of a calendar year, and at the end of a difficult project which did not go as expected.

Formal reflection or debriefs also provide value to non-profit organizations and social enterprises. They help to accelerate learning. I’ve recently facilitated several end-of-year reviews for my clients, and the sessions have proven insightful. I encourage you to schedule time to reflect before this year ends.

Here are some extracts from my review before I took leave on 15 December 2017 for a much-needed break. It sheds some insights into my work with non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa.

Trends in social enterprise in South Africa

Here is a recording of an impromptu interview about social enterprises in South Africa. It was conducted live with Radio 702 and Cape Talk in South Africa on 29 December 2016. We discuss social enterprise in South Africa, some of the more interesting trends and reflect on the year in general.

Social enterprise in South Africa: reflection on trends in 2016

Every December I reflect on the trends among social enterprises in South Africa. I find this exercise very valuable. This year I’ve decided to share my reflection with you.

Here are the top 10 interesting issues or trends I’ve observed in 2016. Note that this is a personal reflection of my experiences; not an unbiased and objective analysis of the sector.

Social enterprise – implications for South Africa’s non-profit sector

The South African Accounting Academy runs an annual conference for non-profit organizations (“NPO Conference”). I was invited to speak in the May 2016 conference on one of my favorite topics. Here is the presentation I gave.

This presentation explores the pros and cons of the traditional charity model versus the social enterprise model. It explains why the golden age of non-profit funding is over. It emphasizes the importance of adopting either the business model or mindset of a social enterprise. The presentation also reveals some of the challenges that non-profit organizations will experience on their Journey to Social Enterprise.

Social entrepreneurship in South Africa

This article was commissioned by the Red Bull Amaphiko programme in 2015. It highlights the considerable need for social entrepreneurs in South Africa. It discusses the various challenge and opportunities facing these social entrepreneurs. It also quotes some well-known leaders in the sector such as Pat Pillay from LifeCo UnLtd and Francois Bonnici from the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Rise of the social enterprise

This article was published in the August 2014 edition of the Small Business Connect newspaper. It is part 1 in a series of 11 articles that unpacks the mind-set of a social enterprise and discusses the principles from Think like a Social Enterprise.

I strongly believe that this is the era of the social enterprise. Non-profit organizations and businesses have both started to mix a social or environmental agenda with business principles. This has led to more capable and relevant organizations. This article discusses the concept of a social enterprise and introduces the forthcoming series of 10 articles.

Shona McDonald from Shonaquip is profiled in this edition. This social enterprise provides mobility equipment for people with disabilities. It was started in 1992 and was clearly ahead of its time.

New life in South Africa’s nonprofit sector: a personal story

The non-profit sector in South Africa has changed beyond recognition over the past decade. This is as I both hoped and feared. It is as I had hoped because young people, new ideas and a fresh energy have entered this sector. It is as I had feared because a number of established organizations with rich histories have failed to adapt in time and have subsequently suffered severely – some have even been fatally wounded. Overall, it feels that springtime may have arisen after a long winter.

Here is my personal story from June 2012 to help illustrate this change in seasons.

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