Zevooli Logo In White

Transitioning from pure for-profit social enterprise

As we embark on this new chapter in our journey, I am overwhelmed with a mix of emotions – excitement, pride, and a touch of vulnerability. We have made a significant decision to transition from being a pure for-profit company to a social enterprise, and I want to share with you the heart and soul of this transformation. 


The Driving Factors Behind Our Decision: 

We found ourselves at a crossroads, struggling to communicate the true essence of our work to a global audience. While our commitment to SME capacity building in South Africa remained unwavering, our message seemed to convey a focus solely on local transformation, created a disconnect with the universal objectives of supplier diversity, sustainability, and global impact. We realised that for us to truly make a difference on a broader scale, we needed to align ourselves not just with local legislation but also with international principles of supplier diversity, sustainability, SDGs, and ESG. 


The Changing Economic Landscape: 

The world around us has evolved, with the lines between local and global objectives blurring. The alignment between the local B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice and global supplier diversity and sustainability principles has become more pronounced. This transformation elevated our role as an entrepreneurship support organisation from a classic for-profit venture to a social enterprise – an entity that addresses social or environmental challenges while sustaining itself financially. 


The Journey of Self-Reflection: 

This shift forced us to look within ourselves, both as a company and as its leadership. We realised that while our core mission had always been to empower SMEs and stimulate the local economy in which they operate, we weren’t effectively communicating our true purpose. The journey involved an intimate understanding of the distinction between a pure for-profit entity and a social enterprise. Recognising that we are indeed the latter allowed us to take pride in who we are and to better articulate our “why.” 


What It Means to Be a Social Enterprise: 

As a social enterprise, we focus on solving social problems through business methods. We play a vital role in the interactions between corporates and the communities they operate in, with a special emphasis on the relations with small businesses. Our objective is to bridge the gaps, create opportunities, and improve standards of living by ensuring supplier diversity becomes business as usual both locally and globally. 


Differentiating from an NGO: 

We have chosen to be a social enterprise because we believe in the power of earned revenue to drive social impact. While non-profits also aim to create positive change, a social enterprise combines profit-making with a social mission. We are in business to make money, but we channel our profits toward creating social benefit and financial sustainability. We believe that this model also makes us more sustainable as an organisation. This gives our impact a certain longevity.  


Impact on Our Business Strategy: 

Our true north remains unchanged; to empower SMEs and contribute to local economies. However, how we communicate this impact has undergone a transformation. Our purpose statement now emphasises our quest to bridge gaps between corporates and SMEs, creating access to opportunities and promoting supplier diversity as a norm. 


Our Starting Point: 

Our journey toward becoming a social enterprise began with defining our Theory of Change. This ultimate vision of social impact, combined with our ideas on how to make it happen, led us to focus on growing entrepreneurial individuals, building local economies, and creating resilient communities. 


Challenges Faced: 

Transitioning to a social enterprise brought with it its own set of challenges. While crystallising our “why” was a major victory, measuring our impact accurately proved to be a complex and layered process. The intricacies of social entrepreneurship and subjective data presented hurdles that we had to overcome. 


Looking Forward: 

This transition marks a new era for Zevoli, and it is a testament to the dedication and passion of each team member. Together, we will forge ahead with renewed purpose, knowing that we are not just a for-profit company, but a force for positive change in the world. 


Thank you for being part of this transformative journey.