In a previous blog post we looked at the different types of social enterprise model. This time we’re delving deeper into the integrated model.
The integrated model often sees a social enterprise’s income generating activity partly fund some of the social activities within the social enterprise. At the same time the business side of things will also directly contribute to other forms of social good. However the product or service they offer is unlikely to solve some sort social or environmental need.
One common integrated model is where the social enterprise sells one product, but charges a premium to another. This then subsidises the other customer groups.
Example 1 — Aravind Eye Care
This is a great example of a social enterprise in India. They identified the problem in rural villages where it was very hard for locals to access adequate eye care services. There was no provision for them locally. The nearest one could be hundreds of miles away and then there was the problem with affordability.
Aravind solved this by offering subsidised outreach services for the villagers. Meanwhile it charged those who could afford it an appropriate amount that would subsidise the outreach service. They went that bit further by making sure the doctors working with clients saw both types. In turn, this avoided creating a two-tier service.
The model has enabled them to expand all over India, and further afield as they work with various African countries in establishing something similar there.
Example 2 — Vesta (Social Bite)
Social Bite are a pretty impressive outfit, running a variety of different projects that aim to eradicate homelessness in Scotland. As part of the charity, they run Vesta, formerly known as Home. It’s a restaurant that offers delicious food and drinks whilst doing a whole lot of other good.
Customers are encouraged to pay-forward meals for the homeless, and this is where the integrated model comes into play. Running as a restaurant it serves customers day and night. Then when people opt to, they can feed their service users using the extra money.
On top of this, they also use the restaurant as a great way to provide training and employment. For example, supporting homeless individuals looking for a return to work. Due to the nature of the restaurant, and the social ethos, getting back into a routine is a lot easier for them. For example, the management, colleague and customers have got your back and want you to succeed.
Integrated model in a nutshell
The integrated model absorbs your social or environmental goals into your social enterprise. Meanwhile, the model enables you to take some mainstream ideas and convert them appropriately. Unlike the embedded model, the service or product doesn’t have to directly solve the problem.
The difference between integrated and embedded models can sometimes be a bit blurry, especially as you may have to adapt your operations to keep competitive. Ultimately the point of understanding your model is to be able to explain it clearly. Therefore, stakeholders will understand and see the impact you are having because of it.