Social businesses are well suited to the online environment

Our recent posts have been of a political nature and I am beginning to get really bored – you too? Let’s shift to those of social businesses that have made excellent use of the internet, for which social businesses are especially well suited. In the interest of transparency, I should confess to being privileged enough to have some involvement with each of these firms through Catalyst Strategy Advisors .

About a year ago I wrote in Alliance Magazine about one of my favourite social companies, justgiving.com, and how it had exploited its online expertise to gain a commanding presence in the online charitable giving sector. Its remarkable success has enabled it to generate funds for charities and be a financially successful company.

PointOV Limited is an intriguing Newcastle-based company. They are soon to have four different faces, but they are basically a set of online offerings focused on ethical consumer products and related social action. What particularly appeals to me about this company and justgiving is how from the earliest days they have managed themselves professionally as “for-profit” social businesses. Their share registers reflect this and consist of institutional and private venture capital funders.

Ukvillages.co.uk (UKV) is another brilliant social firm, which has positioned itself as a sort of “Myspace” for middle-aged (plus) people throughout England. Launched in April 2000 it provides information about events, history and people in nearly 32,000 villages across the UK. “Villages” include everything from an isolated rural village in Northumberland to an urban village like Islington in London. It’s hard to think of anything more “”social”” than this clever attempt to assist people in reinvigorating village life.

With a large list of corporate and public sector clients, UKV has been able to generate revenues nearly from its inception. I believe it (and the other two above) offers exceptional value for money in comparison with state-funded “e-schemes” in which millions of pounds are wasted annually. In the process, UKV has generated an enormous amount of web traffic. Its site says it is currently registering 35 million hits each month!

Thus far, UKV’s funding has been less institutional than the others mentioned above. The business has been funded by the usual assortment of “friends and family”. I have no doubt that with the proper resources its platform can also be leveraged into one of the more successful and valuable social business brands in the United Kingdom.

I could go on and on but I hope my point is clear. The unique characteristics of social business are extraordinarily well suited to the internet and its power in enabling communication across like-minded individuals with strong social values. This list will grow and grow.

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