Social Enterprise/Charity Trading

Most often when people talk of social entrepreneurship, they are referring to charity trading ventures or social enterprises. Aperio offers organisations a comprehensive approach to selecting and implementing or growing their social enterprise/charity trading ventures that is the best fit. Through our process, we work with all aspects of the organisation (including its various stakeholders) in order to help it determine what social enterprise/charity trading avenues will have the greatest likelihood of advancing its vision and mission while delivering a valuable good/service to its client base. The end is to help them become investable ready in order to ensure a strong social return while achieving a financial return.

In our view, the general characteristics of social enterprise/charity trading ventures include:

  • Customer focused relationship: We see this as an exchange of value – the organisation receives pay (even if nominal) and the customer receives the value they place in the service or product.
  • Does not rely upon the social purpose to sell: The product or service can stand-alone in the marketplace. It does not rely on the fact that a social purpose organisation is the one providing the good or service.
  • Is an ongoing activity: For Aperio’s purposes, social enterprise/charity trading ventures are not one-shot deals, but rather an ongoing enterprise
  • Involves a repeat stream of customers or sales

The major stages in Aperio’s social enterprise/charity trading development process:

  • Idea Generation and Screening: To narrow down potential social enterprise ideas based on agreed pre-set criteria
  • Quick Feasibility and Priority Setting: To determine whether an idea or group of ideas has business potential and “fits” the organisation (in terms of mission, culture, etc)
  • Business/Marketing/Sales/Operational Plan Development: To write an effective business plan (developed in a collaborative effort between Aperio and the organisation)
  • Implementation with Mentoring Support: To successfully achieve the strategic goals and objectives of the social enterprise/charity trading idea.

Growth process:

Aperio frequently works with existing social enterprises/charity trading ventures, to help management teams reach the next level of performance. Examples of support for existing businesses include marketing, pricing, HR strategy, operational efficiencies, cost structure analysis and managerial development.

Social enterprise/charity trading organisations may develop greater profitability from their current enterprise activities by market expansion, achieving efficiencies and/or expanding the portfolio of enterprises. A basic enterprise review would consist of:

  • Assessing the current enterprise
    • When undertaking a review, determine what you want to accomplish by it.
    • Be clear what your product offering is, including your ambitions for the enterprise; your vision; business objectives; your customer(s) and what they buy, why, how and where.
    • Perform a SWOT analysis; particularly assessing marketing, sales, operations, staffing, management, finances and risk.
  • Undertaking market research to identify opportunities
  • Assessing growth opportunities – these should be apparent after the research and review of the enterprise and they should then be assessed using metrics that equate likelihood of success to capital outlay to desire and enthusiasm to make the opportunity come alive – one must never underestimate passion!

How We Are Unique:

  • We work collaboratively with our clients – we believe it’s our role to expertly lead our clients through the process, and it’s our clients’ role to be experts in their business or where they need added expertise we provide it or source it
  • We focus on action – we believe that the real innovation is in the execution of a plan, not just planning.
  • Our process is highly interactive and inclusive – we believe it is important to ensure the active and authentic participation of the staff, board, and other stakeholders as appropriate to build the necessary consensus and ownership for social enterprise idea.
  • We infuse the process with a strong focus on entrepreneurship and innovation – constantly challenging our clients to identify ways in which to direct their resources towards the maximum social return on investment.

Aperio believes in mixing the practical with the strategic when undertaking client assignments, offering hands on support and mentoring as well as producing detailed, well researched consultancy reports, as appropriate.