In a research study on social enterprises in Singapore, I studied a hypothesised “perception gap” in Singapore, that consumers are unlikely to pay high premiums for goods and services from these companies. What I found was that while there was a good understanding of social enterprises, consumers will not – in fact – pay a premium for goods and services from social enterprises.
Read “Social Enterprises In Singapore: The Perception Gap“, and here’s a short excerpt:
“In response to the research questions articulated at the beginning of this paper, first, retail consumers in Singapore have a fairly good understanding of social enterprises, even though some variations in their comprehension persist. Expectations and standards of the organisations are varied. Second, these retail consumers will not pay a premium for goods and services from social enterprises. Even when differences in the willingness to pay – in other words, the premiums – are observed, they are statistically insignificant. Finally, while the respondents appreciated the work and value of social enterprises in Singapore, they were unlikely to be personally involved in these organisations. Based on these findings, three thematic policy recommendations were crafted: to engage more Singaporeans across all sectors in conversations, to see social enterprises in the context of the non-profit sector in Singapore, as well as to strengthen the business fundamentals of these organisations.
This research paper is a small contribution to an emerging field of study in Singapore. Some non-profit and voluntary welfare organisations are looking to business models of social enterprises in a bid to become financially sustainable, others – often motivated by personal experiences or an innate desire to do good – view social entrepreneurship as a means to marry social objectives and business principles, and amidst this flurry of activity the government is concerned that some might abuse the “social enterprise” label for more pragmatic purposes. The finding that Singaporean retail consumers are not willing to pay a premium for goods and services from social enterprises might not necessarily be negative, since the likelihood of misuse is less likely if it is impressed upon organisations that the financial benefits are not obvious. In this vein, since discussions on social entrepreneurship have been limited to academics or practitioners, it would be more constructive to involve more in exchanges, and to strengthen the financial bottom-line of existing social enterprises.”