Social Ventures program
The process of building sustainable local communities requires a constant influx and circulation of capital in local communities’ economic cycle. More often that not, the money-flow for local community development appears to be inadequate. To a large extent, this is due to the predominantly centralized form of administrative governance. Notwithstanding the fact that a centralized form of administrative governance may have a positive impact on the overall economic performance of a nation/region in a time of global economic recession, it is also true that centralized regimes are not appealing when it comes down to comparing alternatives facilitating aspects of regional socio-economic development. For example, the experience of young democracies indicates that a centralized regime type is often accompanied by a heightened level of bureaucracy, corrupt practices and social instability – factors that rapidly negate regional economic progress.
In addition, a centralized form of governance tends to benefit only a certain type of groups and address a certain type of issues that may not necessarily reflect the real economic dynamics and needs of the regional economy. Furthermore, the stringent requirements for funding of community and regional projects imposed by the central government or by the European Union (applicable to EU member states) disqualify a huge component of organizations functioning at a district level. Finally, the exuberant cost for project monitoring, auditing and execution allocates a significant amount of projects’ funding back to government servants or to an array of administrative servants instead of to communities’ stakeholders, and, thus make the centralized approach to community economic development inefficient and ineffective.
The Social Ventures program offers an alternative to the centralized model of community funding and economic development by outsourcing business activities. My Social Ventures program proactively identifies local communities' needs and helps these communities to set a local economic cycle by establishing social enterprises, which generate community income and reinvest in local communities’ intellectual, social and physical infrastructure development. Social enterprises are best described as not-for-profit or business organizations which have the ability to increase local communities’ money-flow and provide sustainable local economic growth. The most destinctive feature of a social entreprise is the ownership criteria, i.e. regional authorities, NGOs and private invetsors are the main shareholders. Another distinctive feature of a social enterprise is the way an organization conducts its business activities, i.e. be socially responsible in the way they treat local resources and the environment.
The most prominent advantages of the Social Ventures approach to community economic development are:
- All projects are community centered and community specific;
- It is a self-help strategy to building sustainable local communities;
- Profits are shared and reinvested in local community projects;
- It is a self-sustaining approach enabling regional authorities, NGOs and business organizations to become shareholders in regional infrastructure projects - gasification, elecrification, oil drilling etc. and, thus, muster the resources they need to finance their regional development projects;
- Promotes the culture of grant giving and establishes a functioning community model of economic development;
- Empowers community members and improves their quality of life.
In order to implement its Social Ventures program, Open Mind Society attempts both to establish a close cooperation with regional authorities, on the one hand, and to create a network of social entrepreneurs, on the other hand. By establishing a network of like-minded organizations, Open Mind Society will develop a better understanding of local communities’ needs and, thus, identify opportunities and strategies for local community development. By creating a network of social entrepreneurs, Open Mind Society helps create social ventures that provide financial support and enhance the level of regional economic development.