Achieving Sustainable Development Goals through Social Business Approach

Sustainability is becoming one of the crucial and urgent issues of our time. In contemporary times, more or less, everyone has heard about sustainable development goals, but have you ever heard about social business?

What comes to your mind when you hear about social business? You might confuse social business with social enterprise or non-profit businesses. Let’s look at what social business is about.


What Is Social Business?

 The social business concept is developed by Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus. Generally, a social business is a business that meets society’s social needs. However, social business is often confused with similar other concepts such as social enterprise, social service, social activism, social entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, etc. Although the objectives of all these concepts might be similar or close to each other, there is a significant difference in their operation and application. Basically social business is a profitable non-dividend type of business that addresses the social causes.

The social business model is developed by the seven principles of Professor Yunus, and these seven principles make a social business a unique and out-of-the-box model.


How Social Business Can Help in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals

Our world faces different environmental, economic, social, and political challenges. The United Nations introduced the Sustainable Development Goals to address these challenges, and world leaders adopted a new plan for people, the planet, and prosperity until 2030. The global leaders agreed on 17 sustainable development goals built on social, environmental, and economic pillars. The main objective of adopting this new plan is to make the world sustainable and direct it towards a more resilient pathway.

To accomplish sustainable development goals, social business can play a vital role. According to Professor Yunus through social business, we can create a world of three zeros — zero poverty, zero employment, and zero carbon emission — and if we can create a world where there will be no poverty, unemployment, and no pollution, we will eventually achieve our sustainable development goals and make our world a better and livable place. Social business is such a concept that also addresses the three pillars-economic, social and environmental.


Three Zeros

Let’s look at how social businesses leverage the achievement of sustainable development goals.

Zero poverty: Poverty is a complex issue that is related to multiple causes that do not have an easy solution. However, an integrated approach can play a vital role in eradicating poverty and enhancing economic growth. Social business is the solution that brings financial sustainability, addressing social causes, business development, profit reinvesting, etc. Thus social business contributes to accomplishing SDG Goals: Goal 1: No Poverty; Goal 2: No Hunger; Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing; and Goal 16: Peace and Justice in Strong Institutions. As an illustration of a business model bridging the gap between the market and charity solutions, Veolia and Grameen’s joint venture models how companies can collaborate to reduce poverty.

Zero Employment: Building and starting social businesses helps the economy reduce unemployment, and in social business, the beneficiaries are considered independent subjects. In social business, the beneficiaries are allowed by being self-reliant rather than being dependent on charity or donation. Here the beneficiaries can think for themselves and make decisions for themselves after getting the financial support and starting their own venture. They are free to utilize their talents and ideas. By getting small financial aid, the beneficiaries can not only create employment opportunities for themselves but also help create employment opportunities for others.

For example, In Grameen Bank Bangladesh, underprivileged people are given loans to establish their own businesses and earn their livelihood without any collateral. In this way, social businesses help to achieve SDG Goals: Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth; Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure; and Goal 10: Reduced Inequality.

Zero Carbon Emission: One of the social business principles is to be environmentally cautious. Therefore, social businesses operating currently also contribute to less carbon emission and work on projects that support environmental benefits.

Example: Yunus Environmental Hub is working towards solving the environmental crisis and working on achieving SDG Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy; Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities; Goal-12: Responsible Consumption and Production; Goal 13: Climate Action; and Goal 15: Life on Land.

Additionally, the social business contributes to SDG Goal 5: Gender Equality — by promoting better working conditions and women empowerment.


The social business is not only a business approach, it is much more than that. The social business approach is supporting yourself by supporting others. Moreover, it addresses the three pillars of sustainable development goals to help accomplish the targets of the goals simultaneously. In the future, the social business model can be established and promoted to achieve sustainable development goals.


Photo: VectorMine/Shutterstock


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