How is a social enterprise different from a business?

When we began our journey in 1987, Triest Press had one mission: to make a positive social impact by providing meaningful employment opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities. Thus, our company was established under the category of social enterprise.

Most often, people with intellectual disabilities are marginalised and excluded from the mainstream economy – which makes it challenging for them to become confident, independent, and self-sufficient individuals. When you think of it, it is difficult enough to earn a high school diploma or a college degree – the community should at least give us a chance to use that knowledge.

You may be wondering how a social enterprise is any different from a traditional business. After all, both types of enterprises operate with the goal of earning revenue, right? Well, yes and no.

While it is true that income is important for both social and traditional enterprise, the main difference between the two is that a traditional enterprise runs under one goal only: to earn revenue; whereas, in the case of a social enterprise, revenue solely plays a supporting role.

Although there are examples of social enterprises that are over 100 years old, it is only in the last few years that the term has started to gain attention. For this reason, it can be challenging to define the term social enterprise. However, most agree on the definition which identifies a social enterprise as one that operates “to solve critical social problems and address basic unmet needs through innovation, improving the lives of underserved or marginalised groups.“

A social enterprise can also operate under three different models:

  • The innovation model – used by a company that directly addresses a social issue through innovative products;
  • The employment model – used by a company that makes a positive impact on society by employing disadvantaged people at a fair wage;
  • The give back model – used by a company that makes a positive impact on society by giving back for every purchase made.

It isn’t of great significance which model business owners choose to implement in their companies, as long as they make a difference and benefit society.

Indeed, social enterprises play a key role in improving the lives of those who often do not even get a chance to prove their worth. People with special needs should not be marked and perceived as if they are predestined to depend on society and the government for help. They too, should be more than welcome in the labour market and given an opportunity to become self-sufficient individuals, with a sense of financial security.

In this ever-changing world, we should all strive to follow the path which leads to society’s improvement, and Triest Press is proud to be among the ones who made that choice. If you want to be a part of that change, perhaps you might want to know that we are launching a new app soon which will give you a chance to print your photos and at the same time financially directly support employment opportunities for people with special needs. Stay tuned!

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