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The “social business” model is an initiative aimed at raising businesses’ social responsibility for achieving national socio-economic targets by creating jobs to improve the living standards of vulnerable communities.

Community interest is the main objective of social businesses, which organise their production around providing services for people who need them. Their profits are reinvested in the community according to a business model that focuses more on solving social problems rather than solely benefiting employers and investors.

The goal of social businesses is to help address social issues, for example, by generating jobs that will support vulnerable populations such as the disabled, orphans and people living with HIV/AIDS.

According to the Centre for Social Initiatives Promotion (CSIP), social businesses have been around for a long time and they are now being seen as a creative, market-oriented approach to help solve social issues. Their success has been demonstrated over the years by their significant contributions to the community.

A CSIP survey shows that up to 40 percent of social businesses in Hanoi and HCM City are involved in providing vocational training for healthcare service providers and people with disabilities.

Among the social businesses surveyed, 32 percent operate as centres, 30 percent as companies and 15 percent as clubs, generating jobs for 9,000 people including more than 2,400 living with special circumstances, such as HIV, disabilities and drug addiction.

They have also influenced nearly 400,000 people through community-based poverty reduction and education programmes.

Most social businesses have not yet been officially recognized by the State, which hinders them in establishing a clear legal status and gaining necessary access to human resources and capital resources.

Pham Thi Kim Ngan, director of a business that makes children’s toys, says social businesses can be the State’s partner in achieving its socio-economic targets and they can produce new products and create new markets, in addition to meeting the needs of disadvantaged people in the community.

A few social businesses are currently cooperating with some non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Social businesses have grown steadily in Vietnam and Robin Rickard, Director of the British Council in Vietnam, says social businesses need State support to bring their potential into full play and produce positive, far-reaching impacts on Vietnam’s socio- economic development.

The British Council will continue to coordinate closely with government agencies, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, international donors and other partners to create a favourable environment for social businesses to develop in a society where their operations are acknowledged and appreciated, he adds.

To ensure sustainable development and to keep pace with global trends, it is high time the State legally recognizes the social business model as well as the role such enterprises can play in advancing Vietnam’s social-economic progress.

Social businesses are part of the overall development picture, along with NGOs and State-run and private businesses.

To develop a mutually beneficial relationship between the State and social businesses, a solid legal mechanism for social businesses is essential to encourage them to make innovative contributions to the country’s development.

Source: VOV

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