This is written in regards to charities are drying up during this festive season, non-governmental bodies (NGO) should look at social enterprise models for sustainability.

The concept of social enterprise has been the sustainability factor for many NGOs in America and even our neighbouring country, Singapore, but it is not fully accepted yet in Malaysia. The government has also been slow in drafting relevant acts and policies for the startup of social enterprises.

There are many examples, including confectioneries which generates income to sustain organisations working with poverty and hunger eradication. Social enterprises like TROSA Inc. generates income via furniture refurbishing and professional mover to subsidize the most successful substance abuse rehabilitation programs. The enterprise also provides jobs and creates employment for ex-substance abusers as well as providing residential options. The business has grown from merely an organisation depending on unpredicted revenue to a US$10million company in fifteen years.

There are many case studies and examples of social enterprises, available in book stores and Internet. This model will allow charitable organisations sustain their services and provide income for long term programs. The model also help the country solve social problems other than being an economy boost and employment creation.

The government should facilitate and ease the startup of social enterprise as well as introducing policies and acts that empower NGOs in starting businesses. Current social enterprises in Malaysia are taxed just like any other businesses, making startups more difficult. Educational programs as well as trainings is a must for these organisations have all the while focused on serving the public thus needing new skills to stimulate startups.

I hope NGOs could join hands and look into adopting the concept of social enterprise and government to look at relevant measures for its startup.

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