Saturday, August 18, 2007

淺談社會創業家精神(social entrepreneurship)

淺談社會創業家精神(social entrepreneurship)

(原刊於2007年6月〈SEE 季刊〉008號 公民社會 SEE View)

口述:阮耀啟 香港大學公民社會與治理研究中心學人
筆錄:鄭敏華

香港社會近年談及「社會企業」(social enterprise)這個概念漸多,政府及社會福利機構亦開始著手發掘,但觀乎其在香港的定義及發展,則至今仍未見清晰。事實上,從學術專門的角度去有系統討論這個課題,也可說是較為新興的事情,首個國際學術會議也不過至前年才正式舉行。

環顧世界上較早期出現並可歸納為社會創業家精神(social entrepreneurship)概念之下的例子,有指可追溯至19世紀,開創醫護專業的英國人南丁格爾,她當時就是在英國隨軍出戰,開始改變戰地醫院的作業。她回國後,更以系統的數據及方法,引證如何改革醫護服務及醫院的運作流程,改善病人得救的機會。當中所指的,並非南丁格爾的構思有否盈利能力,令業務得以自負盈虧,重點仍在於她處於社會出現突變(social transformation)的當下,能以革命性的手法,傾覆舊有制度,為社會帶來較大規模突破,令有需要的人今後得到更妥善的照料。

反觀香港,最早出現在非牟利機構的營運模式轉變,跟「社會企業」這個概念開始沾上邊的,可說是一些服務團體開始在慣常政府財政資助下自行發掘開源的途徑。箇中例子有如香港青年會(YMCA)經營酒店,以盈利支持其他服務;又如聖公會假大埔區的聖基道兒童院,後來與發展商合作進行物業發展,成為現在的綠茵山莊,當中賺取的利潤亦可以重投社會服務。不過,這種形式的轉變,卻並非在服務本身出現突破,機構盈利部分的業務亦與機構的服務使命無關。

到了上世紀90年代,香港工業北移,過去承接工廠外判訂單的庇護工場,便相應面臨訂單不足的問題,於是有關的復康服務亦需要轉型,部分社區中心便出現手工藝品零售商店的相連業務,為學員的手工藝品提供出路及就業機會。

至於,香港九七年出現金融風暴後,經濟環境惡化,失業問題加劇,形成本地第三代社會企業演變的環境因素。當時政府一度提出本土或社區經濟(community economy)的概念,希望令社會上較弱勢的一群,可以投入服務市場,當時就有不少社褔機構協助基層勞工成立「合作社」,開拓新客源。另一方面,不少志願機構亦針對中產市場提供收費服務,例如持續進修中心開辦的成人課程,或如聖雅各福群會開設健身中心等,為機構帶來穩定收入。

要數香港較成功的社會企業例子,則可說是「平安鐘」。早於數年前的某個冬天,寒流吹襲下導致多名獨居長者凍死家中,於是在電台節目主持呼籲,一口氣籌集到約一百萬元的經費,開始發展這個企業。有關構思,其實只是將一直在市場上亦有提供的防盜鐘或傳呼台服務,轉化為給予長者的簡單呼救通訊設備,並與社會褔利署合作,資助負擔能力較弱的長者,「平安鐘」也成為長者的護身符,發展相當穩定,近期內地上海及東莞的市政府亦聘請香港一直承辦該服務的「長者安居服務協會」,將概念及服務引進到當地,可見服務的成效不錯,當中也展示出社會企業有潛力不斷擴展的重要特質,即不斷加強其對社會,甚至世界的影響力。

Note: In the published article, the translation〈社會企業家精神〉was used instead of〈社會創業家精神〉

5 comments:

said...

從"平安鐘"的例子其實可以看到2個重要implication: 1)市場需求, 當時市場上未有這種服務提供, 而香港有很多獨居老人, 對"平安鐘"的需求自然大.如果社企的服務與商業服務有競爭或者社企之間有競爭, 那社企如何面對消費者的選擇呢? 2)經費資源.如果當時沒人捐獻, 如果不夠經費支持營運, 這項社企服務如何延續下去呢? 政府最近的"伙伴倡自強"計劃, 對社企項目資助最多2年. 如果2年後社企項目還未能轉虧為盈, 它們如何得以營運下去? 2年可以規劃什麼發展策略?

Terence Yuen said...

Thanks 正 for your comment. There're in fact many issues that can be picked up from the Ping-On Chung case, e.g. how to use a IT solution to address a social transformation (the new "market demand" you mentioned) and to successfully achieve scale-up.

To make a quick response to your comment, you should note that regarding point 1, at that time there were in fact other commercial operators in the market offering similar services, but on a much higher price; so in effect SCHSA (the POC operator) has been addressing the needs of a shunned market and their key challenge is to open up the shunned market that the commercial operators were originally not interested (not until SCHSA successfully lobbied the government to pay for the CSSA receiving single elders).

Re your point 2, while it is very successful now, SCHSA struggled in the early years (for 4-5 years) and some insiders would tell you that for an extended period of time they had to make many loans from a lot of individuals (including board members and senior staff) in order to pay their staff salaries on time. So you're right to say that it is very important not only to have start-up money but also other kinds of assistance for business start-ups like those in the private sector. But the bottom-line is that the SE's business model must be good enough for it to be sustainable in the long-term.

Hopefully, in relation to start-up support, some youngsters and professionals are now in the process of setting up a VC type organization called Social Ventures Hong Kong which will provide not only funding but also expert advice to SE start-ups (see my other blog post on venture philanthropy). So while many start-ups will fail (in the business sector 7 out of 10 start-ups will disappear in a few years), we could still help some really innovative and entrepreneurial social ventures to survive and make some real social impacts to the society.

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Terence Yuen said...

Thanks for checking in Friend from Sleeping Forest. Another article on social entrepreneurship will come out in the coming issue of SEE Magazine and I'll also publish it here after it came out. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

The cover story of SEE's latest issue (#10) is about social entrepreneurship too. Did you read that?