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100Percent – Social Innovation in Action

Written by Jamie Newth on March 4th, 2014.      0 comments

Hi there!

Welcome to the first blog on 100Percent’s shiny new digital platform.  Its great to have you here!  Have a look around, sign-up, get involved… change the world.  But read this first.

Why?  Well, you’ve clicked this far! And if you’re interested in social entrepreneurship, social enterprise, or just want to know what 100Percent is all about, this a good place to start.  Especially given I’m about to explain why 100Percent is a) a stunning piece of social innovation, b) an excellent piece of reality for cutting through some of the jargon I just used, and c) an clear example of how innovation solves intractable (wicked) problems.

I spend a lot of time researching, teaching, thinking about, and even doing innovation.  It bothers me how obtuse some people make the narrative of innovation – as if the practice of it is the domain some intellectual elite… Rubbish! Lets break it down and see how 100Percent fits.

What is a social enterprise? Nuances aside it’s a business that’s primary purpose is the alleviation of a social problem.  This could be by creating profit which is used to fund the delivery of programmes or projects (e.g. a Salvation Army op-shop), or by embedding their social value into their offering (e.g. a café that employs recently released prisoners, people with disabilities, or any group which would otherwise struggle to find employment).  One way to look at is as the application of a business model to a social problem.  

Social entrepreneurship is a process which combines a transformative innovation, a market orientation, and a social mission.  This can happen in a new venture, in an established non-profit, in a corporation, in a government body… and of course in a social enterprise. 

And social innovation? That’s an even trickier one to pin down.  But for the sake of brevity let’s consider it a novel initiative/project/programme/policy/business model which disrupts a system which creates and perpetuates social problems.
 
Social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and social enterprise are all (overlapping) disciplines with innovation at their core.  And they become so lacking in clarity that they risk losing all meaning.  Don’t get me wrong, amorphous fields attract appropriately blurry and contested definitions, but in the social innovation/entrepreneurship/enterprise space, things may have gotten out of hand.  It seems like every second non-profit or charity is claiming to be a social enterprise or every second person looking to start one is a social entrepreneur.  According to the buzz, this stuff is everywhere.  Scratch the surface though, and genuine social enterprises and actual entrepreneurship is relatively rare. 

So what?  What does it matter if people appropriate these terms?  It doesn’t really.  If it encourages people to create or support ventures that try to solve society’s enduring problems then great.

However, there is a risk that this will erode the legitimacy of the social entrepreneurship / social enterprise movement.  It also risks undermining the important position of traditional charities.  This is not so great.

Whether you’re confused or oblivious, let me use 100Percent to illustrate what social entrepreneurship really looks like and how a social enterprise really operates. 

100Percent is rare in that it is genuine business model innovation – not just a fundraising event, or cause related marketing, or a sausage sizzle. 

So what is it? Well we connect people who want to donate their time and talent to good causes, with the people who want the service that they’re ‘selling’/’donating’.  We’ve started with tutoring.  Our volunteers choose to support great causes without having to sacrifice what little disposable income they have, and our customers get a valuable service and satisfaction of knowing 100% of the price they pay goes to a great cause (see how we got our name?). 

So what’s the innovation?  Well usually for a volunteer to be useful to an organisation they need to have the right skills at the right time in the right place.  This is a problem.  But by creating a new business model and a digital platform, we’ve created a solution.  At 100Percent, we monetise volunteers’ desire to help out, by creating a marketplace where their skills can be sold at market rates with the proceeds going to the cause of their choice transparently and efficiently.  This creates value for the volunteer as they get to support their cause without reaching into their own pocket (win), the customer gets a valuable service with the added value of supporting a great cause (win-win), and the worthy charity has a new source of income to further their great work (win-win-win).  Overall society wins too as we end up with a far more efficient fundraising model – by creating a market for volunteer time and talent, we’re creating as much value for worthy causes and using the least amount of society’s resources i.e. people's time (#winning). 

We’ve started with tutoring – uni, high school, musical instruments, etc – but will soon expand so that anyone can offer any service they like for to fundraise for great causes.
How does 100Percent work?

So how can you get involved?  Well you can sign up as a tutor, or join the team and help run this baby!  Or of course you can simply be customer! Have a look through our amazing tutors and use them to help get through your exams.

Jamie Newth
Chairman, 100Percent
 

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