“A social enterprise is a cause-driven business whose primary reason for being is to improve social objectives and serve the common good. A successful social enterprise is one that balances the tension between upholding the social mission of their organisation and maximizing the productivity of their business venture to ensure sustainability.” *
For many years, Santos Organics operated as a community owned ethical business supported by shareholders, with a strong focus on community and environmental projects through donations made by our team charity fund and our involvement in many valuable community and environmental initiatives.
When we formally registered as a Not-for-Profit in July 2016, there were many questions from our customers and team members about what this actually means and how this structure differs from how we had been operating as an ‘ethical business’. As a Not-for-Profit, how we give back is in line with and supported by a Social Enterprise model.
One of the significant differences between a ‘social enterprise’ and an ‘ethical business’ is that a social enterprise centers itself around a social or environmental mission and uses commerce as a tool to maximise sustainability and impact, whereas an ethical business centers itself around creating profit for its shareholders, but takes an ethics-based approach on issues like the environment, trade practices and community development.*
As a social enterprise, the foundation of our business is to ‘give back’ and our priority is the reinvestment of our profits into the organisation’s environmental or social mission rather than payouts to shareholders. When Santos Organics converted its business structure to a not-for-profit, our shareholders effectively became members of our organisation, by converting the value of their shares to an equitable interest in the organisation. While profits are not the primary motivation behind a social enterprise, revenue still plays a significant and essential role in the sustainability of its venture. For this model to be successful, it is also important to ensure that our foundation as a business is healthy and viable and also supports our future growth and expansion.
Ultimately, ‘sustainable revenue’ is what differentiates a social enterprise from a traditional charity that relies on outside funding in the form of donations or grants to achieve its social or environmental mission. Our ‘revenue’ comes from purchases made in our stores and we are very grateful to our customers for their contribution to making our mission possible.
As a Not-for-Profit Social Enterprise, the focus of our profits continues to be our beautiful environment – the health of our planet and our community, that’s why we exist. This means that a portion of our profits as a health food store are donated as grants to environmental and community projects. We have still continued with our team charity fund, but now this means that every dollar spent in our stores by our customers can also go much further.
In 2019, with the support of our team contributions, customers and purchases made at our stores, we were able to make donations of $46,295 to a number of not-for-profit organisations. These funds went towards some amazing environmental projects such as Sea Shepherd’s marine and plastic debris clean-up on Moreton Island, ReForest Now’s nursery development at the Mullumbimby Community Gardens and Hope for Health’s purchase of health equipment and support for remote indigenous communities.
These funds also supported workshops run by Future Dreamers for disadvantaged girls, a website upgrade for Surfers for Cetaceans to improve communication of ocean wildlife protection as well as contributing to the Disabled Surf Association’s surf events for disabled members of our community. Thank you to all of our customers for making this possible and for your ongoing support.
Our next announcement of grant winners will be published in the Echo on 6 May 2020, and you can also find out more HERE on our website.