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From social needs and human capabilities to the theory of change

In this video, I will introduce the three concepts that we should learn this week. I will present examples of social business and also the theoretical framework of the concepts of social needs, business opportunities and theory of change. Hello, my name is Paula Veciana and I am consultor at Tandem Social, a cooperative that advises social business, you can learn more about me in the section meet the team. In this module we will focus on social needs that our project wants to deal with, as well as the theory of change that sustained it.
The two starting ideas are:
One: Every social enterprise has identified a social need and wants to deal with it through economic activity. This means that, firstly, we have identified an unwanted situation and we have analyzed and secondly, we have found a market opportunity.
Two: all social enterprise project has a theory of change, that is the process by which a particular change is accomplished. First, we will talk about social needs, the realities that projects want to change. Amartya Sen, an Indian economist who has devoted his academic work to speak of poverty and social needs, emphasizes that not only it is important to define what social needs are, but also how human beings have access to goods and services to meet these needs. From this idea, Sen developed the theory of capabilities. Capability means the potential that people have to do something.
It will not be enough to give the right to do or get something, but it is actually necessary to ensure that access is possible to all citizens. For example, disabled people will need specific conditions to be able to use public transport; it is not sufficient to have public transport, we must assure that everybody has the capacity of using it. Martha Nussbaum, philosopher, developed the theory of capabilities and identifies the list of human capabilities.
These human capabilities are: 1. Life 2.
Body Health: also includes reproductive health and adequate food 3.
Body integrity: to have freedom of movement and security against all types of aggression. Here also it includes opportunities for sexual satisfaction and for choice in matters of reproduction. 4.
Senses, imagination and feelings: it involves the ability to feel, imagine, think and reason. Here it takes place regarding education (including literacy, scientific and mathematical basic training), artistic production and religious action. 5.
Emotions: Free capacity fears or emotional development of traumatic events of abuse or neglect. 6.
Practical reason: the ability to capture a conception of good and critically engage in planning of one’s life (freedom of conscience). 7.
Affiliation: this capability is divided into two parts: 1. Living with and from others, being able to empathize and engage engage in different ways of social interaction. It supposed to guarantee freedom of assembly and to express political ideas. 2. Social bases of self-respect. Be treated with equal dignity and value than others. It implies the absence of discrimination and human work capacity. 8.
Other species: ecological dimension of human life. 9.
Game: ability to enjoy recreational activities. 10.
Control over one’s environment: it also has two dimensions: 1.
Political: ability of political participation. 2.
Material: real opportunity to exercise the property; equal rights; right to employment on equal; Social business seeks to offer access to people so that they can fully develop these abilities. But not only social business want to solve a social need,
but they also want to do it in a specific way: through an economic activity. So, every social business has to find a business opportunity. But we must bear in mind that perhaps not all market opportunities respond to social needs. All companies respond to a market need, offer a product that consumers value and necessary. Otherwise, the company would not be viable. But do all companies allow the development of full capacities? The answer is no. An ordinary hotel offers a service that the population needs, but makes no concrete action so that people at risk of social exclusion access these services or improve their living conditions. However, a project like The Magdas Hotel in Austria employs refugees to work in different positions.
The refugees are from Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, and 11 other countries, all of whom have struggled to find work elsewhere. Also, they offer two suites at the hotel house for asylum-seekers under the age of 18, who are living in Austria without family, and they offer them training as apprentices in the hotel. The same could be said about the chain of coffee store Perfekt Day in Germany, where you can drink a coffe produced by the company in India. The farmers determine the price of coffee, instead of being the market that fixes it. Some companies are fighting more than one social necessity. An example would be Espigoladors fighting both against food waste and against youth unemployment.
Espigoladors produces jams with vegetables and fruits rejected because of their shape; therefore, it presents an alternative with ecological impact. At the same time, the production process generates employment for young people at risk of social exclusion who are unemployed. Once we have identified what social need we have to solve and the market opportunity by which we will do it, we can develop our theory of change, which is the third topic in this module. The theory of change is a social scheme
that answers the question: What is the change you want to achieve and what must happen to achieve it? The theory of change is a model of cause and effect that explains the generation of social change; it is a roadmap to achieve our goal of social transformation. It can be a theory of change of a project, a company, a public policy of an organization, a strategy… it is a valid tool in different contexts. The only basic requirements in order
to develop a theory of change are: Identify a social need, quantify it, and argue why the need is critical. A value chain showing the relationships that lead to the development of outcome. That every step of the intervention, actions developed become preconditions to achieve the expected results. Indicators to measure the results An example of a theory of change could be the nutrition program in Bangladesh. In this case, it begins with the participation of mothers of children in the program, it assumes that the beneficiary group has been well chosen. The program creates an improved knowledge and eating habits and delivers food.
It is assumed that changing behaviour is enough to change the nutrition of children and that dietary supplements have a role role to complement, not substitute and that the quantity and quality of food is enough. So, you get the results that improve nutritional outcomes. More complex models of theory of change can be built, considering as well impact from other actors.
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Social Business: a Sustainable Way to Face the Most Pressing Needs of Our Time

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