What is your value proposition?

To explain why a vision is essential we used the Golden Circle of Simon Sinek.
The questions asked through Simon Sinek are based on Why, how, what:

  • why the business exists,
  • how to solve the problem or need and
  • what the solution is.

The circle can be linked to the element ‘value proposition’ in the well known business model canvas. In order to fomulate the value proposition you need to have specific answers to the questions:

  • what do you deliver to the costumer?
  • Which problems are we helping to solve for the costumer?
A. Osterwalder, Y. Pigneur. ‘Business Model Generation: a Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers’. John Wiley & Sons (2010)

But include these questions the full value proposition for a social enterprise? We consider this approach too narrow.

Value proposition of a social enterprise

A social enterprise does not only want to add value to the costumer but also to the environment and the society.
The obvious question to be asked is what your specific social organization or enterprise encounters. 

  • What value do you deliver to the customer and the social environment?
  • Which problems are we helping to solve for the costumer and the social environment?

Canestrino et al. ‘Understanding social entrepreneurship: a cultural perspective in business research’. Journal of Business research 110 (2020)

Bosma, N., & Levie, J. (2010). ‘Global entrepreneurship monitor: 2009 Global Report’. Babson College, Universidad Del Desarrollo, Reykjavik University.

The Social environment construes informal as well as formal rules and norms and it provokes attitudes and values, feelings, thoughts, and actions, which then determine the actual position of a person in a given setting (e.g., workplace, school, family).

International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2001

According to Bosma and Levie (2010) the Social entrepreneurship is concerned with individuals or organizations engaged in entrepreneurial activities with a social goal. It may include the following:

  • Nonprofit organizations that apply business expertise to become independent of grants and subsidies (Boschee and McClurg, 2003; Reis and Clohesy, 2001; Thompson, 2002);
  • For-profit businesses that offer solutions for persistent social, economic and ecological problems using market-based models (Dees and Anderson, 2006; Dorado, 2006); and
  • Hybrid organizations aiming to achieve social impact while maintaining a sustainable business model (Alter, 2007; Nicholls and Cho, 2006). Particularly referring to this last point, as Yunus (2008) illustrated, social entrepreneurship addresses a pressing social problem – such as poverty, homelessness, or the needs of under-privileged children – using free market principles. It means, therefore, that SE is profitable and sustainable at the same time, but profits are reinvested into the business instead of going back to the investors.

This means two other dimensions need to be added to the original BMC. These two elements we need to add to the original BMC are obiously Social (Sociality?) and Environment.

This can be structured with the triple layered BMC approach of Alexandre Joyce and Raymond L. Paquin (2016). 

A. Osterwalder, Y. Pigneur. ‘Business Model Generation: a Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers’. John Wiley & Sons (2010)

This tool helps to explore sustainable-oriented business model innovation.

  • The environmental layer is based on the lifecycle perspective.
  • The social layer based on a stakeholder perspective.

When taken together, the three layers of the business model make more explicit how an organization generates multiple types of value: economically, environmentally and social. Visually representing a business model through this canvas tool supports developing and communicating a more holistic and integrated view of a business model; which also supports creatively innovating towards more sustainable business models.

Lets have a short view into the article of Joyce, R.L. Paquin. ‘The triple layered business model canvas: a tool to design more sustainable business models’. Elsevier: Journal of cleaner production. Volume 135 p1474-1486 (2016)

The paper presents the triple layer business model canvas tool and describes its key features through a re-analysis of the Nestle Nespresso business model. This new tool contributes to sustainable business model research by providing a design tool which structures sustainability issues in business model innovation. Also, it creates two new dynamics for analysis: horizontal coherence and vertical coherence


This is only an introduction to map your value proposition regarding the environment and addad value to the society.

Interested in more depth and application? Then continue with the in-depth assignment and read the enclosed article about ‘The triple layered business model canvas’.

maybe for further reading?

Video of Steven Schuurman about … ?

A. Osterwalder, Y. Pigneur. ‘Business Model Generation: a Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers’. John Wiley & Sons (2010)

Canestrino et al. ‘Understanding social entrepreneurship: a cultural perspective in business research’. Journal of Business research 110 (2020)

A. Joyce, R.L. Paquin. ‘The triple layered business model canvas: a tool to design more sustainable business models’. Elsevier: Journal of cleaner production. Volume 135 p1474-1486 (2016)

Bosma, N., & Levie, J. (2010). ‘Global entrepreneurship monitor: 2009 Global Report’. Babson College, Universidad Del Desarrollo, Reykjavik University.