I was reading an article the other day in The Guardian by Dan Zastawny (http://bit.ly/1f9E5yG), in which he argues that it is only by emphasizing the business side of social enterprise that the social mission can be achieved and urges all social entrepreneurial hopefuls to avoid the common trap of prioritizing social aims over viability. This really strikes a chord with me as EKOCENTER builds momentum. Without a business model, there is no business — there is no financial sustainability for the people we are trying to serve. With a business model, the people we serve are better able to unlock opportunities for themselves and their communities AND we are able to better unlock opportunities for partnership. We must never forget the importance of enterprise in social enterprise.

This ladders up a step further to another phrase: it pays to be accountable — which can only be fulfilled if we, in fact, have an enterprise in place that can drive the social impact we aspire to. We have to hold ourselves accountable, because everyone else is. The sentiment of social impact remains just that — a sentiment — in absence of the business model that will make positive change a reality.

With this in mind, we have expanded our team to deliver on operations. Eric Welsh — a seasoned leader with 28 years of service and leadership in the United States Army and 3 years in our bottling operation — has come on board to lead our operations team, building out our operating system and business model. I hope I won’t see much of him around the office, because the real magic and his unique added value happens out in the field, where he will spend most of his time. If you want to read more about Eric, our local newspaper profiled him earlier this year and you can read it here.

It is by demanding this accountability of ourselves and the viability of our efforts that we will embolden our partners (and future partners) with a desire to multiply our efforts — that we will create a social enterprise that lasts — and thus a social enterprise that can create lasting change for the people and communities we serve.

Derk Hendriksen

Derk Hendriksen

Derk Hendriksen is head of the EKOCENTER project at The Coca-Cola Company.