The lack of proper organizational skills can negatively influence the running of a business, this is exponentially true in case of social enterprises, where (in ideal case) the focus is on the social mission/cause and not on the profit. Because although profit is easy to measure, moral, ethical issues are much less quantifiable . Achieving these moral, ethical, hardly measurable goals can decieve leaders, who are trying to focus on the social mission of the enterprise so much, that they miss other important aspects of their business. The Romanian case study, Farm toursim business from Homoródalmás is a perfect example, where the interviewee appoints the importance of organizational and managerial skills.
The Sándor family runs a small family business, which guarantees the daily income for three families now. Three generations working together on a daily basis, sometimes it can be difficult if we think about how many obstacles can be found between the generations, even in daily life, not to speak about working together regularly. But at Homoródalmás their love for their homeland, their neighbours and their vocation „bridges together” these people. What many of us can’t see is that the key to their succes is careful planning and good organizational skills.
Many of farmers in Romania who produce milk are vulnerable because the low price of their product, which is determined by processing enterprises, they are also dependent from the EU subsidies and the government. This is the main reason why the Sándor family decided that they will process their own milk which is a big leap of faith, if one doesn’t plan its actions sufficiently. In this context, the role of organizational skills is appreciated. To establish such an enterprise you need to have a deep knowledge in the field of producing dairy products, you have to understand the local conditions and possibilities and also the ability to plan and design a system, where you can produce enough profit and still sustain the social goal you appointed for yourself. But most importantly you have to implement the theoretical design in the real life. The Sándor family after they realized the milk production is not a very profitable activity, they decided to set up a business which not only produces, but also processes milk and produces dairy products which can be sold directly to consumers within short supply chains. While they don’t hire outsiders, they collaborate with local producers and service providers, supporting the local community and its economy can be shortlisted as the social aspects of the enterprise. Moreover, owners are open to improve and constantly develop products and tourism services which can make positive contributions to their local community’s growth. Running such a business requires outstanding organizational skills to maintain the balance between the two components.
Organizing your enterprise can be like juggling with dozens of eggs and keeping your balance while standing on a rope, stretched in the air, at the same time. At first this may sound difficult, but not impossible.
What’s important, you need to know all the factors and see through the processes to become a good organizer and successful.
Cáceres para Comérselo
The ACTYVA Cooperative Society is an initiative that arises to facilitate the generation of productive, alternative and solidarity economy projects, and the connections between them and with their immediate environment to reactivate relations and exchanges on a local scale from Extremadura.
ACTYVA seeks to be a network of economic activation from which to work at all levels and in all sectors, to create synergies and to advance in models and solutions of integral self-management that generate benefits (personal, social and environmental) for the environment and the community where they are developed.
Cáceres para Comérselo is a food supply project of this cooperative. It is a micro-enterprise of less than 10 employees acting as a cooperative with 6 – 10 years of experience in sectors such as: agriculture, forestry and fishing, agrio-food and tourism, gastronomy, food retail and culinary arts, entertainment and leisure. It offers services related to catering, production & provision of food and leisure activities.
The products come directly from those who produce or process them and from areas as close as possible to Cáceres, with exceptions such as whole cane sugar. They are producers who, after several years dedicated to producing, managing, marketing and distributing our small productions directly to the consumer, have decided to group their catalogues into a single one and to be more efficient in the performance of the other tasks while maintaining the same philosophy.
The company claims to carry out co-design and co-creation and/or sale of products and services with other entities on a regular basis, including other social enterprises or organisations, public authorities at local/regional level, farmers and food producers, companies or organisations in the hospitality sector, NGOs, educational organisations and/or philanthropists.
The professional connections and interactions established with the above mentioned entities are made possible through the participation of ACTYVA members in forums, official meetings with other partners, networking events or through their attendance to workshops specifically designed to collaborate and innovate. The advantage of collectively undertaking an entrepreneurial process has been an important driver for this initiative. In this sense, its founder claims to have acquired his knowledge in business and business leadership, co-creation and co-sharing processes, among others, thanks to the exchange of information and experiences with colleagues/friends (coaching, etc.).
It points out that it would be necessary to train new business people and entrepreneurs, social or otherwise, in areas such as the internal management of collaborative projects that take into account the entire value chain, comprehensive projects. Therefore, they agree with the fact that the support community is fundamental for the sustainability of social enterprises, as they cannot thrive acting independently and in isolation from their community.
Fruit and Vegetable Social Cooperative for the Countryside – Kanálka Cream
The Fruit and Vegetable Processing Social Cooperative for the Countryside operates in Királyhegyes, which is a small village of 670 people in Csongrád County near the Romanian border. The company makes handicrafts from local ingredients, which are sold under the “Kanálka Creams” brand. These are various pasta sauces, onion jams/chutneys, vegetable creams. The company was founded by a legal-economist brother and sister from Szeged. At first it was fruit production, but they found a closed factory in Királyhegyes. They really liked the place – Királyhegyes – a small village which is inhabited by ordinary people, there are no jobs, many of them live off agriculture, so there was an emotional motivation to help for these people.
The aim of launching Cooperative was to renew and keep developing the Kanálka Creams, giving the job back to local people and provide opportunity to local producers to sell their products locally. It was also important for them to develop an attitude towards “green” thinking.
What does mean the GREEN approach?
- Production produces the minimal waste, as the peel of the vegetables is composted;
- Apply the plastic-free process;
- Seasonal vegetables and fruits are processed, thus reducing the use of refrigerators;
- The transport between Királyhegyes and Budapest is often using a carpool service, thus reducing the company’s ecological footprint;
- Their employees go to work in Királyhegyes by bicycle.
The enterprise was launched in the form of a cooperative, which has already required cooperation between the members. They work together with local supplier partners to develop their service. The purchase of fruit and vegetables is mainly from local producers, and if the amount is not sufficient, they also buy raw materials from the surrounding villages. In the sales, they collaborate with large department store chains such as SPAR, Müller, DM, as well as 70 smaller permanent partners: retailers, wine bars, butchers, delicatessens. Sales are mainly concentrated in and around Budapest.
Cooperation with the local government is also important: due to the involvement in local affairs and further development opportunities, e.g., they are now working with the local government to develop a “Local Producer Market”. They also work with the local school: children come to visit the factory and are involved in trying out different handmade craft activities. They regularly contribute to supporting the school’s year-end winners.
Kanálka is a rural business, with all its advantages and drawbacks. The management is in Budapest, the siblings also live here, but it is important that they go to Királyhegyes on a weekly basis. The company is managed online on a daily basis, all information is shared with each other in Google Drive, the production and procurement staff see everything at the same time, and they keep in touch with each other through the Viber group. There are good systems so they always know all the information and data up to date.
However, the attitude of the 670 people living in a closed small village and the attitude of the Local Government are also characterized by a “I can’t do it!” attitude, very pessimistic and sceptical about any new initiative, very difficult to make accepted a cooperative spirit, very difficult to move people, even for good goals. Another major challenge is to work with public bodies on tenders, as administration is complex and cumbersome.
Before launching this enterprise, it is advisable to gain experience in the field in advance, “look very strictly at how viable your idea is, how much the market needs it, i.e., how much reality the “Dream” has. It should be borne in mind that the for-profit and non-profit approaches must be present together in such an enterprise. Business attitude and business knowledge are very important, and of course a good product that the market needs because subsidies cannot be used to build a business.
It is also important to know the management, economic and financial knowledge, human knowledge, e.g., personality typology, it can help in conflicts, negotiations, dealing with people, more successful collaboration. Hungary has no culture of how to deal with it if we make a mistake, this should be taught as well. It is also important to develop problem-solving thinking.
The following case study tells the story of Tim Roberts, CEO & Founder of Infectious. He had struggles managing his tasks, and his self, during his early days as an entrepreneur. When Tim started working on his start-up, he looked back at his day and felt disappointed in himself because he achieved too little. That does not mean the young entrepreneur didn’t do anything, but the major things he needed to make progress on remained incomplete.
Without a boss to report to, peers to collaborate with or a team to manage, Tim was all by himself and faced with his own productivity. Combined with the nowadays distraction from blogs, Facebook, Twitter, he was performing below the level he know he could. Over time Tim developed better self-management practices to help me focus, filter and be more accountable. So, how did he get out of this loop of unproductivity?
First of all, he started a list, or as Tim calls it: a task box. ‘My task inbox is the waiting room for anything I want to accomplish. Big tasks, small tasks, important tasks, future tasks, old tasks, new tasks, work tasks and personal tasks. It is the big laundry list. Everything goes in here’ Tim says. This was his first step. Simply get all the unfinished business out of your head and put it on a list.
Tim starts the day by ordering all his tasks to get a clear view of what should be completed today. He opens his email and identifies all the things Tim wants to get done for the day. After this step, the ‘today-list’ steps in. These are tasks labelled as urgent and important. Make sure that the today-list is realistic. Less is more. ‘I then sequence my list. Not just prioritize. This is possibly the most important part of the process. I actually put tasks in the sequential order of which I will complete them.’ What Tim actually does is create a roadmap for the day. What will your day look like? Tim states that inefficiency largely pops up in the spaces between completing one task and starting another. ‘It is in this gap we get distracted, avoid doing dreaded tasks and generally screw around.’ If you finish early with your today-list, simply go back to your inbox and add some more! It will give you a boost in morale completing all your tasks. What Tim did is improve his self-management skills and use them to get more productive.
None of the case studies identified by the SAGA project report to have used a specific social impact measurement tool or method. Nonetheless, various do report on a specific impact they have had. Most of the case studies report back in terms of creation of employment, or benefits for those working at the organisation.
In line with the spirit of a cooperative, the members of Treasure of Völgység Social Cooperative in Hungary, who participates in the production activities of the processing plant, receive a regular salary. Furthermore, they receive a secure, regular income as they are also self-employed. At the same time, fruit growers in the area will have supplementary sales opportunities through the plant’s processing activities. In addition to its economic activities, the cooperative provides social benefits to its members, depending on its financial means and without jeopardizing the achievement of its primary goals, as well as supporting the cultural, educational, public cultural and sports activities of its members.
Fructus Start Dairy Product Social Cooperative from Hungary reports to have created employment for 5 to 6 people who transferred from public employment schemes.
Social Cooperative for Márok also from Hungary, used the “FÓKUSZ” tender to employ 5 people for three years. Unfortunately, despite the income generated through the general store the cooperative could not generate enough income for further employment.
The Social TeaHouse in Bulgaria, employs young people over the age of 16, who are trained by specialists in order to acquire work habits that help them to become competitive on the labour market after leaving the program. Each of them has assigned personal mentor who takes care of the personal growth of the young person. The effect of this activity can be traced among the successfully realized professional young people who have gone through their program – more than 50% find their way and lead a fully independent and decent life.
The SunFarm Camp in Bulgaria, reports a positive environmental impact, it cooperates with the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds – using their experts for guides and trainers and cooperates with the Municipality of Stambolovo in terms of cleaning the containers in the village
Maria´s World foundation in Bulgaria uses the revenues gathered from catering services are invested in vocational training of people with intellectual disabilities in culinary skills and support for starting work in the open labour market.
There are however, many case studies of social enterprises using a specific method or tool. Based upon the selection of tools and methods in this unit, the following case studies are considered relevant:
Discovering hands is a social enterprise officially founded in 2012 by the gynaecologist Dr. Frank Hoffmann. He set out to fight the problem that breast cancer is the most common cause of death for women between 40 and 44 years of age in Germany. It trains and deploys visually impaired women with their highly developed sensory skills to detect the early signs of breast cancer. These so-called ‘medical tactile examiners’ (MTEs) are trained at vocational training centres for people with disabilities and deliver breast examinations at doctors’ practices. Discovering hands first introduced the social impact reporting, based upon the GECES standard explained in this unit, in 2012. The report describes first the context of breast cancer prevention and detection in Germany, the organization’s approach and operating mode, the target groups, their potential, their interaction and their possible revenue contributions. http://www.discovering-hands.de/start/english-version.html
MillRace IT (UK) provides advanced IT on-site training, teaching people with mental health problems how to refurbish, maintain, service and build computers. The goal is to create a bridge to employment. MillRace IT also has a strong environmental mission to re-use computer equipment and prevent it from going to landfill. The organisations used in 2005 the SROI method described in this unit. The case study shows that for every £1 invested, £7.40 of social value is created each year for society in terms of reduced health care costs, reduced benefit costs, and increased taxes collected. However, there are a number of other benefits, such as increased self-confidence of those recovering from mental ill-health that are not included in the analysis. https://socialvalueuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/MillRace%20IT%20SROI%20case%20study%202005.pdf
Time and resource management is part of everyone’s daily life, with appointments to keep, events to attend, household to run, work to attend, leisure activities to do, and more. In order to get everywhere on time and preferably only get tired at the end of the day, we need to manage our time and energy.
Effective time and resource management is even more important in the management of our work and business, as these activities only take up a slice of our day, but if we slip up, it can affect the rest of our leisure and personal activities. The example below shows a case study related to time management, an overview of which will provide useful information for understanding the lesson:
After several months of reflection, Andrew decides to try his business idea in reality and together with two friends, they establish a social enterprise. The organisation starts operating, fulfilling their orders with social goals in mind. However, as the demand for their products grows, Andrew finds his work becoming less efficient, tasks pile up, he has no time for his family and his phone rings constantly. He decides to seek help in finding a more efficient time management from an expert who identifies the following problems:
- Andrew can’t concentrate on one task for long because he is constantly distracted by the many incoming calls,
- In unfocused, distracting conditions, it is impossible or requires multiple energy investments to work effectively,
- The emergence of overtime and the sidelining of leisure activities is leading to increasing fatigue, which also makes concentration difficult,
- At home, family rather than work should be the priority, as a stable, supportive background is essential in the long term,
- A day should not be over-planned, and realistic goals should be set when making a schedule.
Andrew took the suggestions and started to organise his time in a different way, and also realised that there were tasks that he did not need to deal with directly, but could be delegated. In agreement with the rest of the business, a secretary was hired to handle the daily phone calls and help his colleagues with the activities that he could do efficiently.