Social entrepreneurship involves the recognition of the existence of a problem. Once a problem has been recognized, a social venture is organized using entrepreneurial principles. These social ventures are aimed at achieving a particular social change. Unlike business entrepreneurs who are measured in terms of profit and losses, social entrepreneurship measures its success by the kind of returns it has on society. Social entrepreneurship is focused on ensuring social, cultural and environmental changes in society. Social entrepreneurs have often been associated with non- governmental and non-profit organizations that solve issues in society. This does not mean, however, that Social entrepreneurs are not allowed to make any money (Hawken, Lovins & Lovins, 2008).
Social entrepreneurs are people who have noticed a problem in society that needs fixing. These social entrepreneurs usually try to find ways of fixing these problems. These social problems are normally fixed using market or entrepreneurial principles. These remedies vary in the way they are formulated. Some are innovative, others new ideas are fresh yet some ideas have been tested before. Most entrepreneurs are people who tend to think outside the box. They often come up with ideas that other people have not thought of. Social entrepreneurship involves using these ideas to sort out issues in society, most times not for profit. Most of these social entrepreneurs are people who may have faced certain challenges while growing up that may have motivated them to come up with fresh ideas to sort these issues out. Examples of such issues are poverty, loneliness or abuse.
Nonprofit Technology Resources
Social entrepreneurs can be found anywhere in the world mostly in places that have need for these solutions. Nonprofit Technology Resources is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where it serves the less fortunate by recycling computers for them. The computers that are recycled have already been used. The recycled computers are then donated to community based organizations in Philadelphia. They also train the community workers in computer use helping these community organizations serve the community of Philadelphia much better.
Nonprofit Technology Resources hopes to help Philadelphia reach the level of development at which all members of the society have skills and knowledge in order to access information and make informed choices. Nonprofit Technology Resources realized that the society of Philadelphia required vital services from the organizations that served the society. Nonprofit Technology Resources, therefore, realized this gap and decided to come up with this social entrepreneurship to help the people of Philadelphia receive access to information technology through the use of computers.
Nonprofit Technology Resources has the capacity to refurbish over five thousand of used computers each year. It has a thrift shop where anyone can buy computers at very low prices. They also give three year warrantees for these computers. Nonprofit Technology Resources has an internal capacity that ensures that all computers reported to malfunction are repaired quickly. Nonprofit Technology Resources accepts all sorts of donations from members of the public only to a given level. They issue the receipts so that those who donate can ask for tax donations.
Non-profit Technology Resources uses all hard drives of the computers that they receive. They re-image these hard drives before they re-install them. All the computers that are donated are tagged with the names of the donors which are then kept in a central system for the sake of tracking. Nonprofit Technology Resources was born in Philadelphia in 1974. Nonprofit Technology Resources are the oldest computer refurbishment firms devoted only to the non-profit organizations and the people served by these non-profit organizations. Nonprofit Technology Resources also uses its factory as a computer training place for people who need such training. Their computers are dependable and affordable to people with low income. After these computers have been repaired, they are distributed in three ways.
Through the Learning through Technology program, Nonprofit Technology Resources sells these refurbished computers to the public at an affordable price. Other computers are distributed freely to low-income homes within Philadelphia. Nonprofit Technology Resources also deals with computer accessories, printers and other gadgets at the thrift shops. The last bit of the program allows the interns to build their own computers. This is an all-round process that benefits both the staff and the community (Hawken, 2008).
Benefit to Staff
It is not just the non-profit organizations in Philadelphia that benefit from Nonprofit Technology Resources, even the staff does benefit. Other than earning a salary at the end of the month, they are trained to identify computer components, to manage the company inventory, to assemble computer parts, repair and refurbish computers. Nonprofit Technology Resources is a non-profit organization that requires its staff to have a positive attitude and to understand that at the end of the day, the aim is to serve the people of Philadelphia and to ensure that more people have access to computers, hence, information technology.
Nonprofit Technology Resources has a good package for its staff. Work at Nonprofit Technology Resources has been described by a section of the staff as challenging but very rewarding. The staff spends part of their time in the factory assembling, repairing and refurbishing computers. This only takes about 60% of their time. The rest of the time is spent learning how to use these computers. Most of the people that are hired by Nonprofit Technology Resources know very little about computers at the beginning. This is why the program at the Nonprofit Technology Resources is very beneficial as they learn a lot about computers.
The staff at Non-profit Technology Resources are taught the basic skill of Microsoft office. They move to higher levels of computer training after some time. After training, workers get an opportunity to be certified by various examining bodies. Even when these people leave Nonprofit Technology Resources, they benefit from these certifications as they can use the certificates as proof that they have been trained and have acquired some useful skill. These workers are also trained on how to maintain inventory. Inventory involves registering all computers donated to the Nonprofit Technology Resources and tagging each computer with the name of the donor so that the organization can keep track of all of them.
Challenges Facing Nonprofit Technology Resources
Many social entrepreneurs face all sorts of challenges in a bid to serve the community. The very first challenge they face is that of getting the workforce for the organization. A non-profit organization like Nonprofit Technology Resources will depend on volunteers and qualified workers that need to be paid. The factors that motivate these workers are various. Some are motivated by the desire to serve the community while others are motivated by other factors. As a result of the fact that the workers in Nonprofit Technology Resources are highly motivated by the fact that they desire to make a difference in society, careful management and planning is required for success.
Like other non-profit organizations, Nonprofit Technology Resources faces constraints of funds from time to time. This is because most of their funding comes from donations from well-wishers and is, therefore, not fixed to a particular amount. Even when the funds are released, there are conditions that are attached to these funds that must be followed. This is because the donors of these funds also have their independent goals that they need to achieve. As a result, Nonprofit Technology Resources often has strict guidelines and may not have the funds to spend on other strategic management issues. Nonprofit Technology Resources has to constantly appeal to well-wishers for their support in order to continue serving the community (Hawken, 2008).
The other factor that makes it so hard for Nonprofit Technology Resources to get funding is the fact that so many non-profit organizations are out there looking for funding. Donors also have their preferences when it comes to the causes that they are willing to fund. Many governments would rather support medical organizations than organizations that provide information technology services such as Nonprofit Technology Resources. In hard economic times, many people in wealthy nations are constantly debating about whether it is still worth to donate to start charities.
In order to continue serving the community, Nonprofit Technology Resources has had to move out of their comfort zone. They have had to find new ways of dealing with issues and finding funding in order to remain in operation. Funding is a problem because unlike other enterprises, social entrepreneurs are not focussed on making any profit. Their only aim is to serve the information technology needs of the community. Nonprofit Technology Resources has faced the challenge of acquiring enough funds to keep its doors open. They also have to re-invest in the community organizations that they serve. Budget cuts have often had a negative impact on the amount of money that the government gives to such non-profit organizations.
The other challenge that Nonprofit Technology Resources faces is finding good and well qualified volunteers. As such, external stakeholders have a great influence about how the organizations are run. Unfortunately, many of the stakeholders are of different opinions about these non-profit organizations. Some stakeholders think of Nonprofit Technology Resources while other stakeholders do not really care what happens to the organization. The way that the performance of non-profit organizations is measured is also limited. This is because these non-profit organizations do not focus on making profits. As such, their mission is to serve the community of Philadelphia by providing them with serviced computers.
Nonprofit Technology Resources also faces the challenge of changing social structures. Like most non-governmental organizations, it has previously relied on subscriptions from well-wishers. Lately, donors have moved away from these traditional methods of raising funds and have instead focused on interacting with non-profit organizations through the use of social media networks. A charity like Nonprofit Technology Resources that depends on donations from people in order to serve the community, therefore, faces the challenge from other organizations that assist people to donate directly to the community without going through any particular organization.
States and local authorities have often cut the amount of funding that they give to non-profit organizations. These non-profit organizations are left at crossroads, not knowing what they should do next. Foundations and private donors have also not been left behind in the budget cuts. They have also been affected by the recession and have had to cut back on the amount of money they give to non-profit organizations such as Nonprofit Technology Resources. As a result of the fact that governments and private donors have put more pressure on non-profit organizations to be more accountable, Nonprofit Technology Resources finds itself in a difficult situation as it can no longer provide services to as many members of the community as it would wish to.
Nonprofit Technology Resources has to become more creative in its approach to funding especially when the government decides to cut the amount of money that is given to non-profit organizations. Even though non-profit organizations are not focused on making any profit, they still need to set some realistic financial goals. These financial goals will help them remain financially stable even in the midst of the entire financial crisis that is currently going on. One of the most effective ways of solving the problem of funding is by creating awareness. The public need to be informed about the activities of Nonprofit Technology Resources and how these activities are benefiting the people of Philadelphia. Local radio stations, newspapers and magazines are perhaps some of the best avenues for advertising Nonprofit Technology Resources
Again, Nonprofit Technology Resources should turn to using well qualified volunteers instead of the traditional kind of employees in order to reduce further strain on the finances of the non-profit organization. Nonprofit Technology Resources should however draft clear contracts for these volunteers to ensure that privileged information of the firm is not divulged to sources that should not access the information.
The other strategy that Nonprofit Technology Resources could use to survive in this industry would be to join other non-profit organizations and together they can influence the way policies that affect non-profit organizations are run. Together, these organizations can share costs; they can run certain programs in the same location in order to ensure that they reduce their spending to a level that keeps them financially healthy. Nonprofit Technology Resources should therefore try to be more proactive and creative in its approach to issues of funding, political issues and political challenges (Hawken, Lovins & Lovins, 2008).
Nonprofit Technology Resources also needs to work closely with the government, state agencies and other non-profit organizations. This will ensure that it communicates its goals and mission clearly to the state so that it can align its goals with those of the state. This will ensure that they are accountable to the state and other stakeholders that fund their activities. This way, the government will treat Nonprofit Technology Resources as an investment to the community. The main goal is to ensure that their project remains sustainable and productive.
To ensure that Nonprofit Technology Resources is accepted by the community in Philadelphia, it is important that the community is involved in the affairs of the organization. The organization needs to organize more community mobilization activities to ensure that the community feel like they are part of the organization. The community should also be involved in the publicity campaigns that are organized by Nonprofit Technology Resources. There are many activities that can be organized by the organization and community can be involved even in the planning of these activities. The volunteers can also be found within the community.
This paper has discussed the concept of social entrepreneurship. The organization that the paper has focused on has been Nonprofit Technology Resources which is a non-profit organization that helps the people of Philadelphia to acquire refurbished computers at affordable prices. They also give computers to community based organizations that operate in the state of Philadelphia. This paper has also discussed the challenges faced by Nonprofit Technology Resources in serving the community. Finally, this paper provides possible solutions for the challenges that the organization has faced. Community participation is very important in social entrepreneurship because the solutions are meant to solve problems within the society. The best way to identify these problems is by asking within the community for their opinions on how Nonprofit Technology Resources can serve them better.