Title: Can a social enterprise sustain operational efficiency and profitability in an open market? The case of Spring Back Recycling

Authors: John S. Gonas; Catherine Loes

Addresses: Belmont University, 1900 Belmont Boulevard, Nashville, Tennessee 37212, USA ' Belmont University, 1900 Belmont Boulevard, Nashville, Tennessee 37212, USA

Abstract: Social enterprises often seek to provide their stakeholders with economic, social, and environmental benefits. We find that developing and sustaining a social enterprise can challenge profitability in a competitive, profit-maximising marketplace. Much of the public and non-profit economic literature questions the ability of a social enterprise, with a primary emphasis on providing a social or environmental good over maximising profit, to sustain a competitive position in a commercial marketplace. For the past five years, we have conceived, developed, and implemented a social entrepreneurial venture with an aim of sustaining profitability. Spring Back Recycling is a service-oriented social enterprise that provides transitional employment, a sustainable source of revenue and earned income, and an operational enterprise that diverts millions of pounds of solid waste. Spring Back's distinctive business model and value proposition have not only achieved sustainable profitability, but have also been able to differentiate the enterprise from traditional, profit-maximising solid waste management firms.

Keywords: social enterprises; social entrepreneurship; non-profit; waste diversion; open markets; operational efficiency; recycling; corporate form; case study; transitional employment; solid waste management; sustainable profitability.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSEI.2015.073537

International Journal of Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 2015 Vol.3 No.6, pp.457 - 471

Available online: 11 Dec 2015 *

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