La Vaca Independiente: Should a Social Enterprise Adopt a For-Profit Business Model?
This case presents a social enterprise considering whether a for-profit model might be an effective way to scale its impact. Mexico City-based La Vaca Independiente (The Independent Cow) was founded to bring art to underprivileged children. The founder observed that many global problems are caused by humanity’s increasing state of isolation, with individuals disconnected from the planet and from each other. She concluded that most benefit corporations address outcomes of isolationism, but that La Vaca could target the matter directly. La Vaca focused exclusively on a program called Developing Intelligence through Art (DIA). Using artwork as a stimulus for thought and discussion, DIA provided individuals with opportunities to develop meaning in their lives. She believed, based on evidence that companies lose annual revenue due to the effects of isolationism on their employees, that she and her team could pursue a for-profit business model in order to expose La Vaca to markets and opportunities inaccessible to a charitable organization.
After discussing this case, students should be able to:
- Describe what details a social entrepreneur must consider when creating a value proposition (stakeholder interests, product or service strengths, ability to fill a unique niche, etc.). Students should understand that business value and social value should be fully integrated to avoid mission drift and achieve financial success.
- Identify the potential advantages and disadvantages of the following: exclusively expanding a specific product or service; pursuing new adaptations of a product or service while diverting resources from a successful original model and geographical expansion at the risk of diluting a program’s quality or effectiveness.
- Understand the benefits of a training structure that encourages self-reflection and provides mutual understanding across levels of management.
Mexico, Small, 2012-2013
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