Sustainable supply chain in a social enterprise essentially relates to how the social enterprise engages various stakeholders in its value chain, how it mitigates its socio-environmental footprint and how it ultimately delivers a sustainable solution to its end users. We believe that the supply chain of a social enterprise is not only the key enabler of ultimate impact it creates on the ground but also crucial to achievement of its social mission.
Supply Chain Sustainability
Supply chain sustainability is the management of environmental, social and economic impacts, and the encouragement of good governance practices, throughout the life-cycle of goods and services. The objective of supply chain sustainability is to create, protect, and grow long-term environmental, social and economic value for all stakeholders involved in bringing products and services to market. – BSR.org
There has been growing awareness of the social, environmental, and ethical impact of an organization’s business. Sustainable sourcing, sustainable production and sustainable distribution create an overall sustainable supply chain. However, depending on the business model of a social enterprise, a particular part of the supply chain plays a relatively dominant role in creating social impact.
Fair trade organisations sourcing products and services from indigenous communities are classic examples of sustainable sourcing playing a central role in social impact.
Purple Impression, a conscious clothing brand based in the United States, sources its apparel from women artisans of Multan in Pakistan. Their social mission of making women from most conservative families self-reliant is chiefly driven by this choice.
Divine Chocolate is co-owned by 85,000 cocoa growers of Kuapa Kokoo, a cooperative in Ghana. As 44% owners, they get a share in the profits, a say in the company, and a voice in the global marketplace. This creates sustainable social impact through long-term entrepreneurial opportunities.
Eco-friendly production techniques, training and employing BOP communities in manufacturing and paying them fair wages are some of the most powerful ways of creating social impact.
SoULS – Solar Urja through Localization for Sustainability, a project by IIT- Bombay, aims to provide clean energy access in rural India by developing a sustainable, localized solar ecosystem. Solar Lamps are assembled locally used by local people and serviced by the locals. Thus its through their sustainable production that they are working towards their social mission.
Lijjat Papad, a well-known co-operative and micro-entrepreneurship enabling enterprise creates impact through its processing stage, where rural women are employed to produce the finished product.
Creating social impact through distribution chain necessitates creating microentrepreneurs or employing BOP communities as intermediaries to deliver its products and services to its end users.
Samagra, well-known for their rural toilets, serve the BOP community by delivering basic sanitation services to them and allow them to earn a living out of maintaining one in their village.
Sustainable supply chain directly contributes to the impact created by a social enterprise. It is also the chief instrument in achievement of its social mission.