Dialogue in the Dark, Hong Kong: A Role Model for Social Enterprises in the Making
(8 pages of text)
Dialogue in the Dark Hong Kong Limited (DiD HK) is a social enterprise founded in August 2008 that uses exhibitions and workshops to raise the public’s awareness of the disadvantaged and provide jobs for the blind. It also aims to achieve financial success and sustainability, and provide dividend payouts to investors. In the first two years of operation, DiD HK’s innovations attracted many participants and created jobs for visually impaired employees. It made progress toward a breakeven in 2010 through its unique ownership and business models; the start-up team invented many new programs unheard of in other franchises.
Although DiD has franchises all over the world, none of them are sustainable and successful. Geared toward expanding to other parts of Asia, DiD HK is not without its problems. Its product range and market have room for improvement, and there is a lack of repeat visits to the exhibition. DiD HK also needs further financial capital, human resources, and other resources. Thus, it is imperative for management to review its strategies, and find ways to sustain its expansion and financial performance. If DiD HK can overcome these challenges, it may serve as a role-model social enterprise not just in Hong Kong, but also in other parts of the world.
The case is suitable for both business and non-business senior undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as executives in the private and public sectors, NGOs, and other social enterprises. It is useful for those who wish to learn more about social entrepreneurship and the development model of social enterprises. It could also be used in courses on corporate social responsibility, business-plan writing, and entrepreneurship.
The teaching objectives of the case are:
- To understand the social entrepreneurship and social enterprise using a social entrepreneurship framework.
- To evaluate the strengths/weaknesses and dilemmas of a social enterprise regarding its objectives and development, innovation and management strategies, as well as mobilization of resources and finance.
- To apply the concept of shared value and discuss possible ways for social enterprises to achieve self-sustainability and scaling up. Instructors could discuss the factors that led to the success of DiD HK and the characteristics of the social entrepreneur. They could also study the social impact and the challenges faced by the social enterprise and ask students to suggest possible solutions for these challenges.
China, Small, 2008-2011
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