Social enterprises are businesses that prioritize social or environmental objectives alongside financial goals. Unlike traditional for-profit enterprises, social enterprises aim to address societal issues and create positive impact through their operations. They generate revenue through the sale of goods or services, but their primary mission is to bring about social or environmental change rather than maximizing profits for shareholders.

Social enterprises have at the core of their mission and operations, a direct interface and commitment to the customers and people they serve. Some big business and public entities such as Access Bank, Dangote Group, Senator E. A. Lamai Foundation, Famfa Oil, UBA and Lagos State Government have even gone further to incorporate Sustainability Reporting standards in their operations as a way of enhancing their social enterprise business model values.

Social enterprises can take various forms, including:

Nonprofit Social Enterprises: These organizations operate like traditional businesses but reinvest their profits back into achieving their social or environmental mission rather than distributing them to shareholders. They often rely on grants, donations, or government funding to support their activities.

For-Profit Social Enterprises: These businesses pursue social or environmental objectives while also aiming to generate profits. They may use innovative business models or adopt a “double bottom line” approach, measuring success based on both financial returns and social impact.

Cooperative Enterprises: Cooperative enterprises are owned and controlled by their members, who may be employees, customers, or other stakeholders. They operate for the mutual benefit of their members and often prioritize social goals such as fair wages, environmental sustainability, or community development.

There are several social enterprises operating in Nigeria across various sectors, addressing social and environmental challenges while pursuing financial sustainability. Some prominent ones include:

Wecyclers: Wecyclers is a waste management social enterprise that incentivizes low-income households to recycle their waste by providing them with points that can be redeemed for goods and services. The collected waste is then recycled and sold to manufacturers.

Paga: Paga is a mobile payment platform that enables individuals and businesses to send and receive money, pay bills, and access financial services using their mobile phones. Paga aims to promote financial inclusion and empower underserved communities with access to formal financial services.

Bridge International Academies: Bridge International Academies is a social enterprise that operates low-cost private schools in underserved communities across Nigeria and other African countries. By leveraging technology and standardized teaching methods, Bridge aims to provide quality education to children from low-income families.

Andela: Andela is a technology company that trains and empowers software developers in Africa, including Nigeria, through its intensive training program. These developers are then connected with global companies to work on software development projects remotely, contributing to job creation and skills development in the technology sector.

Farmcrowdy: Farmcrowdy is an agritech platform that connects smallholder farmers with investors who provide funding for agricultural projects. Investors receive a share of the profits from the farming activities, while farmers receive training, resources, and support to improve their productivity and livelihoods.

BudgIT: BudgIT is a civic tech organization that promotes transparency and accountability in governance by making government budget and spending data accessible and understandable to the public. BudgIT’s platforms enable citizens to track government spending, advocate for accountability, and participate in the budgeting process.

ColdHubs: ColdHubs is a social enterprise that provides solar-powered cold storage solutions to smallholder farmers, enabling them to preserve and extend the shelf life of their perishable produce. This helps reduce post-harvest losses, increase farmers’ incomes, and improve food security in rural communities.