Assessing Business Ideas for Starting-Up Successful Social Enterprises in Romania: an It-Supported, Micro-Regional Development Project

Cezar Scarlat

Abstract


Purpose—This paper aims to develop a unique instrument to be used for both assessing business ideas and monitoring the respective social enterprises while taking off, eventually IT-supported.
Design/methodology/approach—A sample of 25 cases was selected—in the framework of a regional development project in the Horezu micro-region, Romania (the IDEALIS Project implementation is scheduled for 2011-2012). Each case corresponds to a business idea for starting-up a social enterprise (either agricultural co-operative or co-operative enterprise) in the region. The first phase of this project is to assess the viability of each business idea, and the second phase is to monitor the social start-ups as they are taking off. In both phases an original decision method is used, implanted on a methodology to assess the business idea’s probability to succeed. This paper was prepared after the completion of the first phase while an IT application was considered as a vehicle to use the proposed method for monitoring the newly created social enterprises.
Findings/results—The proposed instrument (ABIDIS: Assessing Business Ideas by the DISTEH method) was successfully used to associate a score to each business idea and, consequently, to rank the respective social enterprises accordingly: the higher the rank, the higher the chances to succeed. It is expected that social enterprises are considered for financial aid according to this ranking.
Research limitations/implications—ABIDIS instrument is more useful when analyzed against a database of similar social enterprises and/or compared to its own historic data (which is monitoring actually). Amid successful method development and its use for assessing the chances of the social enterprises’ ideas to succeed, the practical use of the proposed methodology for monitoring the recently established social enterprises is still in progress. Furthermore, the rightness of the assessment is a matter of time—as it is going to be validated after the project completion.
Practical implications—The practical implications are twofold: the proposed method can be used for both assessing the viability of social enterprise ideas (by social entrepreneurs and consultants mostly) and monitoring the respective social enterprise while taking off (by entrepreneurs, consultants and funding institutions). In addition to these, the proposed methodology opens a larger research window for interested scholars.
Originality/Value—The assessment instrument and decision method are the author’s original development and their use for assessing the chances of the social enterprises to succeed is a premiere. Moreover, the use of this method.

Keywords


social enterprise; social entrepreneurship; business idea assessment; Romania; micro-regional development

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"Social Technologies" ISSN online 2029-7564