Austin Yoder and David Wilson came from the US and Australia respectively to Taiwan to start their social enterprise The Foundation for Talented Youth. Their goal is lofty, to bring entrepreneurial skills to at least 1,000,000 people by 2025.

They are part of a global trend for social enterprises that has also come to Taiwan. Social enterprises reject the idea that the sole purpose of a business is to make as large of a profit as possible and instead consider social and economic development to be equally important.

Social enterprises take on social responsibilities like green consumption, fair trade, humanitarian aid, and so forth. Essentially, social enterprises use innovative approaches to do business for the good of society. Proponents of the social enterprises movement believe that every social issue also represents a business opportunity.

The non-profit organizations (NPOs) that traditionally has taken on social issues often have to perpetually fight to raise the resources they need to operate. Organizing as a social enterprise can enable an organization to become self-sufficient and sustainable, rather than relying on charitable donations.

Hence, social enterprises beneficial to Taiwan’s overall social development. The new “changing society through consumption” charity movement has gradually begun replacing NPOs as the leaders of social change.

Taiwan’s social enterprises are on the brink of taking off. More and more entrepreneurs with a sense of social obligation and creative innovation are beginning to invest to make the world a better place.

Emerging Social Enterprises in Taiwan

There are approximately 800 social organizations in Taiwan. Of these, about 200 are corporations, and 600 are NPOs.

To support the social enterprises intermediary organizations for promotion, social networking, fundraising, and capacity building have also begun to emerge. Gradually, the social enterprise ecosystem in Taiwan is taking shape.

Social Enterprise Action Plan

To promote sustainable innovation and growth and encourage young people to engage in social enterprises, the Executive Yuan set up the Social Enterprise Action Plan in 2014.

The vision of the plan is to create an ecosystem that nurtures innovation, start-up businesses, growth, and the development of social enterprises in Taiwan.

This will be achieve in four ways:

  • Deregulation: To create a friendly legal environment for social enterprises.
  • Networking: To promote and build a social networking platform for different groups of social enterprises at home and abroad.
  • Financing: To provide multiple channels of funding through angels, VCs, credit guarantees, etc.
  • Incubation: To build an incubation mechanism for social enterprises and establish a professional support system.

Social Enterprise Cluster

Because social enterprises need a base of operations in Taiwan, with the support of Premier Mao, the Premier’s former residence was officially launched to be used as the base for social entrepreneurs in May, 2015. The main reasons for using this space are as following:

  • It can promote the concept of and raise public awareness for social enterprises, as well as act as the core networking center for social enterprises.
  • The facilities include multi-purpose workspaces, conference rooms, exhibition halls, and markets; the government can also use it as the base to promote youth start-up companies and social innovation.
  • The expertise of social entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs, social movement activists, social workers, programmers, and designers can be pooled together here to build a social enterprise platform, serving as a reference guide for future social enterprise developmental policies.

Social Enterprise Hackathon

The Hackathon for Social Enterprise Clusters was held on March 28th and 29th, 2015. Social entrepreneurs, startup founders, and experts in the field were invited to join the discussions and   co-found solutions in accordance with the themes of “exploring the needs and challenges of social enterprises”, and “social enterprise community clusters.”

Social Enterprise Meet-up

The purpose of these meetings is to support the regional communities of social entrepreneurs, investors, campuses, and incubators, to hold conferences, seminars, and workshops, to spread the idea of social innovation, and to encourage more people to participate in social enterprises.

Social Enterprise Registration

In order to increase the transparency of social enterprise development, the government is going to assist the private sector set up a registration system for social enterprises utilizing a two-stage verification process (basic and advanced, which may include charity reports and financial reports). The companies that meet the qualifications for the advanced system can also acquire additional support such as mentoring, funding, incubation services, and government procurements.

International Connections

So there is a lot happening with social enterprises in Taiwan and the International connections are growing. One old-timer in the social enterprise business is London-based The Big Issue which was founded in 1991 and arrived in Taiwan in 2010. The Big Issue give homeless people the chance to earn a legitimate income by selling their eponymous magazine. They believe in “help them to help themselves” and “selling, not begging”.

Yoder and Wilson likely approve saying that “Innovation leadership skills are key tools that can enable anyone, no matter how poor, to take control of their lives and build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.”

Imagine achieving all that as a sustainable, on-going social enterprise in Taiwan.

 

Some Social Enterprises in Taiwan

 

Foundation for Talented Youth TownWay
Teaching entrepreneurship to young people Combine creativity and local culture to boost local
economy
We provide innovation, leadership and critical thinking
skills workshops to teenagers.
TownWay is geared toward
promoting local tourism and industries through work-stay programs for
Taiwanese youths and campuses.
http://foundationfortalentedyouth.com/ www.townway.com.tw
Victory Potential Development Centre for
the Disabled
The Big Issue Taiwan (TBIT)
Create jobs for disadvantaged groups Create jobs for disadvantaged groups
Expands the diversity of unskilled job opportunities
and develops new employment opportunities for the mentally and
physically disabled, allowing their talent to shine.
TBIT employs people who are homeless or disabled to
sell magazines on the streets, and allows them
to keep half of their revenue as a source of income.
www.victory.org.tw www.bigissue.tw
Farm-Direct O-Power
Improve product distribution channels and help small
farmers to sell their products
Improve product distribution channels and help small
farmers to sell their products
Farm-Direct uses an
Internet platform to help small farmers bypass the exploitations of the
middleman and uses minimal packaging to give consumers eco-friendly,
healthy, and convenient services.
O-Power not only assists farmers with organic farming
through its agricultural production and marketing groups, but also
manages production and marketing via a B2B
platform.
www.farm-direct.com.tw www.o-power.com.tw
Neways2021 Buy NearBy
Improve product distribution channels and help small
farmers to sell their products
Improve product distribution channels and help small
farmers to sell their products
Neways2021 plans to link together all peripheral areas
surrounding provincial Highways 20 and 21 into an economically viable
plum-producing district. They make plum
pastries, handmade soup, and other natural products.
Buy
NearBy bridges the needs of small farmers and businesses
through facilitating sustainable consumption of farm products.
naturallybread.yam.org.tw www.buynearby.com.tw
Duofu Care & Service iHealth
Provide products and services that meet the needs of
society and protect the environment
Provide products and services that meet the needs of
society and protect the environment
Duofu
provides people with disabilities with transport services that, do not
require a user’s identity, purpose of travel, or reservations, giving
them more control over their own mobility.
iHealth provides free delivery of prescriptions for
individual patients and
long-term care facilities, and provides at-home pharmaceutical
consultation from
professional pharmacists.
www.duofu.com.tw www.ihealth.com.tw
DA. AI Technology MINIWIZ
Utilize green technology to promote environmental
sustainability
Utilize green technology to promote environmental
sustainability
Da Ai
is the first non-profit Taiwanese company dedicated to producing
eco-friendly products. It adheres to Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s concept
of “Co-exist with the Earth.”
MINIWIZ
is a global innovator, dedicated to sustainable energy solutions,
emphasizing the
Reuse, Reduce and Recycle method. It creates sustainable technology
with top-quality designs and excellent performance.
www.daait.com www.miniwiz.com
OurCityLove HappenCoworking
ICT for disabled employment and accessibility in the
aging society
Provide co-working spaces to encourage youth to start
businesses
OurCityLove utilizes ICT
to provide user-friendly information about handicap accessible
restaurants, and it encourages people with disabilities to understand
and cultivate their unique value in society.
HappenCoworking provides a
co-working space where various lectures and gatherings are held. It
also serves as a dream incubator for cross-industry exchanges where
people can share ideas and learn from each other to promote growth and
innovation.
www.ourcitylove.org happencoworking.com
Love2fruit Leezen
Promote local cultural experiences Practice and promote organic agriculture
Love2fruit places dining
tables on fields and serves local seasonal vegetables and fruit cooked
on-site. Everyone is invited to experience this innovative culinary
culture.
Leezen creates a
collaborative commercial circle linking producers and consumers by
selling mutually beneficial products with integrity. They encourage
organic farming and sell products with minimal artificial additives.
www.facebook.com/love2fruit www.leezen.com.tw
Okogreen ELIV International Service
Propose and promote the idea of fair trade Devoted to aid activities to improve the standard of
living at home and abroad
Okogreen helps producers
and farmers to be independent, while increasing the quality of their
products, as well as providing safe products with transparent
information for consumers.
ELIV encourages Taiwanese
volunteers to serve abroad, to explore international issues, to
experience foreign cultures, and to work towards social change.
okogreen.com.tw www.elivtw.com
Tainan City Recovery Youth Association Taipei Parents’ Association for the
Visually Impaired
To strengthen the employability among underprivileged
groups through vocational training and competency innovation
To strengthen the employability among underprivileged
groups through vocational training and competency innovation
The Association trains and employs people with
disabilities to work in the leather carving business, helping to turn
their shortcomings into advantages in the job market. (For example,
people with hearing loss have an edge over others when working in a
noisy environment.)
With assistance from the people with normal vision,
Parents’ Association provides specialized piano tuning education to
people with blindness or visual impairment, bringing their advantage in
hearing into full play.
www.sggo.org.tw www.forblind.org.tw
Yu-Cheng Social Welfare Foundation Joyce-Agape Association
To strengthen the employability among underprivileged
groups through vocational training and competency innovation
To strengthen the employability among underprivileged
groups through vocational training and competency innovation
The Foundation runs health product factory and
restaurants as shelter workshops, empowering people with disabilities
through specialized professional training
The Association employs people infected with polio in
the printing business, easing their dependence on social welfare
resources, and using the profits to build a permanent home for the
disabled.
www.ycswf.org.tw www.joyce-agape.org.tw
Nantou County Zhushan Township Green
Bamboo Production Cooperative
Tainan City Sin-Hua District Community
Association
To promote community development through a traditional
culture renaissance
To promote community development through a traditional
culture renaissance
The Co-op builds a “Bamboo Culture Park” with over 120
species of bamboo in Nantou, to develop bamboo-wares, as well as to
promote the local bamboo industry.
Association holds innovative events (such as
wall-painting) to attract young people to work for renaissance of
historic districts, rejuvenating aged communities while supporting
local industries and conducting literary and historical studies.
www.bamboo.org.tw goo.gl/2aiUcr
Dashu Tile Kiln Society Dapu Agriculture Product Cooperative in
Gaoshu Township, Pingtung County
To promote community development through a traditional
culture renaissance
To make the best of local agricultural resources to
create new added value for the product
The Society turns the declining traditional brick and
tile industry into a cultural and creative industry, assisting
community’s female members in design and manufacturing.
The Co-op revives traditional techniques of
fermentation, and create a sharing economy of local crop supply and
marketing strategy of cooperative.
goo.gl/H3rpiu www.facebook.com/dabumama
Nantou County Zhongliao Township
Long-Yan-Lin Welfare Association
The Miaoli Native Craft Association
To make the best of local agricultural resources to
create new added value for the product
To rebuild traditional aboriginal culture and create
an
economical system with aboriginal characteristics
The association supports local agricultural specialty
industries by building their own brand, and taking good care of both
the young and the elderly in the community.
The association revives traditional weaving techniques
of aborigines by starting a weaving business ranging from daily outfits
to artworks and to benefit local aboriginal community.
www.facebook.com/sw.welfare goo.gl/GnLTXI
Fuxing Township Tourism Association Yuanai Workshop Association
To rebuild traditional aboriginal culture and create
an
economical system with aboriginal characteristics
To rebuild traditional aboriginal culture and create
an
economical system with aboriginal characteristics
The association takes traditional lifestyle of
aboriginal people as an important part of ecotourism in order to
introduce indigenous culture, to help travelers learn how to be an
organic part of nature, and to benefit the economic development of
local tribes.
The Association empowers aborigines in typhoon-stricken
areas to make a living by starting a craft art career, making woven
products featuring aboriginal and novel design, or making furniture,
decorations, and toys out of typhoon driftwood.
www.lokah-tayal.org.tw ol780253.weebly.com
Social Enterprise Insights
Establish a platform for the dissemination of
information for social enterprises
First Mandarin Language Social Enterprise Information
Portal from Taiwan.
www.seinsights.asia