Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Book Review: Measuring Social Enterprise (Ed: Marie Lisa Dacanay)


Measuring Social Enterprise is a good resource for social entrepreneurs who are serious about moving past nice anecdotal stories and start applying metrics to quantify their results.

Dacanay starts off the first chapter by setting a clear definition of a social enterprise and discussing the challenge of performance measurement.

She highlights the difference between a traditional enterprise and a social enterprise on three key aspects:

(a) Primary stakeholders or beneficiaries
Where a traditional enterprise is answerable to its stockholders, a social enterprise considers its beneficiaries as its primary stakeholder.

(b) Enterprise philosophy
A business enterprise has what she calls a "accumulative enterprise philosophy" while a social enterprise has a "distributive philosophy". That is, a broader distribution of wealth.

(c) Primary objectives
Given the earlier two points, it then means that the art of managing a business enterprise and a social enterprise has a key difference as well - the former focuses on maximization of profit while the latter consists of managing multiple bottom lines: "optimizing development outcomes while ensuring financial sustainability."

The bulk of this book is about that last part, optimizing development outcomes. Dacanay opines that "you cannot manage what cannot be measured." So this book offers two classic tools for measurement of development outcomes - Development Indexing and Social Return on Investment - and case studies of how they have been applied.

The featured case studies give you a good overview of the organization's goals and measurement needs, and then shows actual guidelines, impact maps and even FGD guides. It's almost like being allowed to sit it on a strategic evaluation meeting with these social enterprises to learn from their strengths and challenges. Among the featured organizations are:

While a person with a background in development work will feel comfortable with it, I believe some social entrepreneurs who came from another field may possibly find all this information overwhelming. But it's exactly those people - social entrepreneurs who came from the corporate world or some other industry - that I would advise to read this book. It's something you need to learn if you are serious about your social enterprise: accounting for your social development impact should be just as important as your financial accounting.

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To learn more about the book, visit its official page.

MEASURING SOCIAL ENTERPRISE may be purchased from the ISEA office at P500.00 per copy (exclusive of mailing cost). International purchases may be made at USD15.00 per copy (exclusive of mailing cost). ISEA and Oikocredit members/partners are entitled to a 20% discount beyond their pre-arranged complimentary copies. A discount of 10% shall be given to students and groups purchasing 5 or more copies. Orders and inquiries may be made at and at +632-7038912 (text or call, look for Dolly Marcial.)

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