Issue/WT Notices2012.06.07 11:57

[Korean Social Enterprises News]

3. CSR Upgrades to Social Enterprise

ETNEWS 2011.09.23

Jin-Wook JUNG Reporter

In the 1318 Happy Zone, a local children center for youths supported by the SK Group, children are playing samulnori, a traditional Korean form of percussion.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not a new concept. As more companies have been becoming aware of CSR, various types of CSR activities, including making donations, establishing scholarships, and Mecenat have been increasing. Lately, social enterprise has been emerging as a good CSR model. Social enterprise is a combined model of NGO and commercial enterprise, not only selling products but also pursuing public good. The main target is socially vulnerable people, who are given a jobs and provided with diverse social services.

Since social enterprises working in cooperation with major companies have provided opportunities for the vulnerable class in society to make a living, the possibilities of social enterprise are looked upon in a positive way. In addition to increasing the amount of attention given to social enterprise, there are opinions that the government, corporations, and civic groups need to work together to develop various social enterprise models.

The leader in the social enterprise sector is the SK Group. The SK Group has directly established Happy Lunchbox, Happy School and Happy Library, supporting 69 social enterprises so far. Happy Lunchbox offers free lunches for elderly people with low incomes and underfed children in school. For job creation, the social enterprise hires a cook and a delivery worker from the low income bracket. The government pays the workers of Happy Lunchbox, while the SK Group financially supports the management of the social enterprise. It is one of the best social enterprise models backed by the government and corporations.

Happy School, established by the SK Group, local governments including Seoul, Busan and Daegu, and the Women Resource Development Center, is helping with the after-school activities of children. The national government and local governments pay the teachers of the programs, while the SK Group is in charge of contributions to the Happy School foundation, as well as management.

The SK Group and the Ministry of Justice established Happy New Life, a social enterprise to help ex-convits make a living and support their reintegration into society. The major plan for this year is to create diverse workplaces, such as a laundry factory, offering secure jobs for suitors.

There are also other social enterprises backed by the SK Group; Mezzanine I-Pack is a packing plant for North Korean defectors and low-income people; and Café Timor is a social enterprise that uses fair-trade coffee from coffee growers in East Timor, offering job opportunities to vulnerable groups.

Samsung has managed seven social enterprises, such as Hope Network and Global Together Eumsung. Their plan is to train 400 social entrepreneurs, providing 20 billion won for social enterprise businesses. Hope Network is a social enterprise that currently supports local children centers in Seoul and Kyunggi province; it dispenses high-quality education services including case management, taking care of children at night, culture and art activities, and a philosophy class, with experts on each subject.

Global Together Eumsung is a social enterprise for multicultural families. Presently there is one in Eumsung in Chungbuk province, furnishing a language class as well as a training service to help multicultural families find jobs or start their own businesses.

Samsung, in cooperation with Sungkyunkwan University and Kyunggi province, opened classes for future social entrepreneurs. Their plan is to train 400 aspiring social entrepreneurs for two years, setting up training classes in Sungkyunkwan University and financially supporting graduates in order to allow them to start an enterprise with the Kyunggi local government.

The LG Group established Boram Village, a rehabilitation center for disabled people with 5 billion won, and then donated it to the Chungbuk local government. In Boram Village, Boram Workplace hired 80 disabled people, backed by about 300 million won a year from the affiliates of LG, including LG Care, for its self-reliance. Hyundai Motors and Posco are also participating in the social enterprise business.

Experts point out that the national government, corporations, and local governments need to collect capacities to expand social enterprise businesses, taking the responsibility of dispensing social services to support the livelihood and education of low-income groups.

The Korea Social Enterprise Promotion Agency reported 572 social enterprises obtained certification as of July, 2011; 59 percent of the enterprises offer jobs to the vulnerable. There is an average of 23.7 paid workers per social enterprises, showing a noticeable result in job creation.

Myung-Jin IN, a co-president of the Better Social Enterprise Network, said, “The government or a corporation alone would not be able to take all the responsibilities for self-reliance of low-income groups. Converting the creativity and capability of low income group into productivity is truly the welfare that we want. “We cannot be satisfied with the present situation, even though some companies are actively aiding social enterprise businesses. More efforts, as well as more participation by corporations and the government, are needed to maintain the social enterprises already established,” he added.

Jin-Wook JUNG Reporter

Name of


Number of

social enterprises

Name of partnership

Main activities



Happy Lunchbox

Free lunch program



Hope Network

Support for local children center



Boram Village

(Contribution to the local government)

Support for disability service center

Hyundai Motors


H&S Dooriban

Producing rice snacks



Pos Eco-housing

Eco-friendly construction company

Translated: by Erika Jeong-Hyun Ryu

Edited: by Patrick Ferraro


Posted by hamkke