The eBay Opportunity for Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise is becoming a major factor in developed economies.  It seems ordinary people are taking control of stuff governments and companies won’t.  They get together and do stuff which needs doing, for  charity, for their communities and for themselves albeit not in way which makes them money.  More importantly social enterprise gives them an opportunity to escape the system and contribute to causes they care about.

Social enterprise gives people like us a chance to act like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and other generous people who donate their time and wealth to good causes.

In our family the social enterprise contributor is Jackie.  Over the last 10 years she’s done some amazing stuff.  Listening to kids read in the local schools.  Working in the charity shop.  Helping in the Family First programme.  Working for Save the Children.  Working with the Adult Learning programme.  Jackie is the typical middle class mother who’ll do stuff to help the less well off.

For the last few weeks she’s been trying out ideas with eBay and discovered an interesting opportunity for groups looking to find ways of turning effort and entertainment into cash. Buying branded goods in charity shops and boot sales, then selling them on eBay.

This didn’t start out with the intention of developing a business model for social enterprise, but that’s how it’s turned out.

Selling branded product on eBay is simple, and fun.  Finding the product to sell is even more fun, she assures me.  Best of all the real kick comes from taking the photographs, listing the product, choosing a minimum price and watching the bidding.

With eBay everybody wins and the big companies lose out.  People wanting the designer handbag, the cashmere sweater or the leather jacket get to buy at a fraction of the shop price.  Others wanting to make cash for good causes get to turn their commitment into somebody else’s money, and have a ball doing it.

This is a model every social enterprise can follow.

Maybe we should find a way of persuading them to do it, and showing them how?

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