Triple Bottom Line (3BL) – Where do you draw the line ?

A warm breezy spring day with lush greenery all around………..

A relaxed run on the track with your iPod and Dart VII shoes!

Can there be a better bliss?

I heard you. So are the Dart VII shoes, especially for the fitness freaks.

For the uninitiated, Dart VII shoes belong to the “considered” line of Nike, a response to the sweatshop criticism the company faced in early 1990’s.

3BL helped Nike to get back on its feet.

Can we all be Nike and Just Do it?

At least Social Enterprises does that.

Triple Bottom Line, core to all Social Enterprises was first coined by John Elkington, the founder of British Consultancy SustainAbility in the year 1994.

Triple Bottom Line (3BL) consists of People, Planet and Profit.

  • People – In 3BL context, it refers to a fair business practices towards labor and community
  • Planet – In 3BL context, it refers to the sustainable environmental practices
  • Profit – In 3BL context, it refers to the economic benefit enjoyed by both people and planet.

In reality, these entities are double edged sword for the Social Enterprises.

They are the fundamentals of the Social Enterprises. But these are also the ones that pose too many challenges in terms of up-scaling.

All Social Enterprises have inherent duty to create jobs and invest in social good.

Where do you invest – Human Capital or Social Good?

What should be your prime focus – Environmental Value or Economic Gain?

All these boils down to – Where do you draw the line?

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”

We too faced that.

1) Should we invest in human capital or become a tech savvy?

Being a Social Enterprise, one of our mandates is to increase the jobs. This prohibited us in investing in “technology” that reduced labor cost. So, we chose to invest in human capital.

Alongside, we got patent for our technology – Handmade Recycled Plastic. This ultimately made us a “tech savvy” in manifolds.

2) Should we invest in hiring a Social Media expert or in a social project like School?

We chose to invest 50,000 INR in establishing the school for the underprivileged children of the most vulnerable rag-picker community.

Alongside, we also hired a Social Media intern to get our minimal work done.

This decision helped us not to make compromises as well as helped us further to become a “lean organization.”

These are just few of many real time situations we faced as a Social Enterprise.

Also, over the time, all these decisions and their outcomes made us lose belief on – “You can’t eat your cake and have it too”.


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