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In today’s economy, social responsibility and charitable concern has become a key tenet of successful corporations. What previously might have been a peripheral element of a campaign strategy, with donations to worthy causes an additional feature of an otherwise capitalistic action plan, today’s biggest industry leaders tend to have mainstream focus on their social responsibilities. The largest names in all fields, from Microsoft to Google to Coca Cola, all have strong initiatives with clear ethical importance established in the hearts of their businesses. This is undoubtedly a new development. Research into the rise of global social enterprises in the United Kingdom shows that one third of programs there were less than three years old, with new schemes being launched on a regular basis by businesses of all sizes. Whilst the leading names have the most weight to their movements, even smaller companies are stepping up to the plate and taking their own responsibilities to wider society very seriously.

There are a wide range of areas in which businesses become involved. Some choose to stay within their own industries, whilst others look to wider questions of global development and universal problems like shelter, crisis management and education. The majority of individual schemes today sit somewhere between the two, with focused impact on a particular issue implemented on an international scale.

For example, several of the largest pharmaceutical companies have clear programs of charitable support to those who are otherwise unable to access medication and treatments, both at home and abroad. The Johnson & Johnson Patient Assistance Foundation is one of these, working to connect people with the support they need for good health, offering a range of common specialist treatments through its program. Founded in 1997, since then the scheme has evolved so that in the last two years, the Foundation has been able to donate more than two million prescription item units to those in need. Through a central telephone system (accessible on 1-800-652-6227) patients can discuss their needs and eligibility and start the process.

Likewise, the Lilly TruAssist Program makes a number of product donations to assist patients without insurance, or whose healthcare package cannot support them through the treatments they need. In an economic climate where an estimated fifty million people are without health insurance, there is a rising sector of society who are simply unable to access the care they need. Focussing on supporting individuals within the country, the Lilly TruAssist Program was launched in 2011 as a focal point to their work with healthcare providers to facilitate the provision of care, helping around three hundred thousand people each year. Again, customers use the single phone number to access the service (1-855-LLY-TRUE) – making it accessible throughout society.

Whether working at home with the neediest members of domestic society or looking further afield to the less economically developed areas of the world, social enterprise schemes are becoming an integral part of the modern business model. Using the influence associated with leading a successful brand to make a difference in the wider world seems to be the way forwards in all sectors, a fact which is helping change people’s lives.

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