On Crafts: Doing Good or Doing Business

27th April 2017

We introduced the crafts programme in 2015, after requests from local women to help them gain an income generating skill. Our mission was to teach women and girls a skill, which could enable them to earn an income to sustain themselves and their families.

By Cianne Jones – I struck up a conversation with a businessman recently, about the pros and cons of the new trend in organisations setting up social enterprises in developing countries. Social enterprise can be defined in many ways. A common definition is ‘an organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being’. This may include maximizing social impact, alongside profits for external shareholders. Our main discussion was over whether these social enterprises were truly sustainable. The businessman argued that the social enterprises that are set up in developing countries are generally set up by people who lack business acumen. This impacts on the sustainability of the enterprise. The people that the businessman was referring to were the so-called “do-gooders” or western NGO’s. He gave me an example of a social enterprise that he visited in East Africa, which didn’t appear to have a clear business plan. Indeed profit to them appeared to be a dirty word, as if social enterpris