What is a Social Enterprise?
Essentially, a social enterprise is an entity (for-profit or nonprofit) that uses business practices to achieve social change for the common good. According to the Social Enterprise Alliance, the definition of a social enterprise is:
Social enterprises are businesses whose primary purpose is the common good. They use the methods and disciplines of business and the power of the marketplace to advance their social, environmental and human justice agendas.
Three characteristics distinguish a social enterprise from other types of businesses, nonprofits and government agencies:
- It directly addresses an intractable social need and serves the common good, either through its products and services or through the number of disadvantaged people it employs.
- Its commercial activity is a strong revenue driver, whether a significant earned income stream within a nonprofit’s mixed revenue portfolio, or a for profit enterprise.
- The common good is its primary purpose, literally “baked into” the organization’s DNA, and trumping all others.
How is FCA a social enterprise?
When the Farmers Irrigation District invented the Farmers Screen, they patented the technology, and licensed it to FCA under the condition that FCA take the Farmers Screen to market, address the institutional barriers that have prevented widespread screen installation, and invest any surplus revenue in other solutions and entrepreneurs that benefit both the environment and agriculture.
Therefore, while FCA sells the Farmers Screen, FCA is also focused on addressing the regulatory, funding, and social issues that have prevented widespread screen installations for all fish screen technologies.
FCA’s vision is to build a future where the 300,000 diversions in the western United States all have a fish screen. Behind each screen, wherever there is fall, hydropower is generated and untapped energy is harvested. Using only water that is currently diverted, fish-friendly base-load power is produced. The result: endangered species are protected; billions of fish lives are saved; landowners receive state-of-the art and desperately needed infrastructure; a scalable solution is launched nationally and internationally; and individual investors generate a profit by supporting sustainable, thriving agrarian communities.