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Methods – Social Enterprise

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What it is:

A process in which designers work directly with local or disadvantaged communities to co-create products that can be made and sold by those communities. This approach often utilises local skills and materials, and enables people to be part of the design process and benefit from the outputs. Social enterprises are defined as businesses driven by a social or environmental purpose; many other design methods described in this section contribute to their development.

Input:

Expertise:

Time:

Staffing:

Costs:

Low | Medium | High

Low | Medium | High

Low | Medium | High

Low | Medium | High

Output:

Local businesses that can support local communities

Best suited to:

 

DISCOVER

The social enterprise model covers all stage of the design process and is especially suited to disadvantaged communities with indigenous skills and resources and no alternative forms of paid employment.

Characteristics:

DESIGNING FOR | WITH | BY PEOPLE

Type of interaction:

LEARN | LOOK | ASK | TRY | IMAGINE

Goes well with:

Participation Design Games, Prototyping, Immersive Workshops

What designers say

‘…When I go into communities, we design, research and produce together. Respect is
the guide for each action…’   Paula Dib, Brazil

Examples

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Design as a Tool for Local Transformation

Paula Dib of Transforma Design, Sao Paulo, Brazil, works with impoverished rural communities in southern Brazil to create attractive craft objects from waste products and local pigments.

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Social Soap 1 - Paris suburbs

RCA designer Thomas Pausz helped to set up a small soap factory on a housing estate in the suburbs of Paris and organised soap-making workshops with local residents. The soap is made using plants and herbs from urban gardens nearby.

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Background and further reading

In the UK, social enterprises are defined as ‘businesses with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.’ The original use of the term social enterprise was first developed by Freer Spreckley in 1978, and later included in a publication called Social Audit – A Management Tool for Co-operative Working (1981).

Read more here