Auara – the Value of Water: An Exploratory Case Study on the Challenges of Being a Social Enterprise in Spain

Marie Christine Fester & Julie Helene Lauritzen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Auara is a Spanish social enterprise that sells bottled mineral water in the Spanish market. 100 per cent of its profits are spent on carrying out water projects in disadvantaged communities in third world countries. In contemporary Spain, the concept of social enterprises and social entrepreneurship are still relatively unknown. Indeed, few enterprises similar to Auara exist, reflected in the scarcity of empirical studies. Nevertheless, this new phenomenon, combining social and economic value creation is increasingly seen as a promising way to solve deep social and ecological problems, and thus merits closer attention. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the factors explaining the success of Auara and gain insights about the phenomenon of social entrepreneurship in the Spanish context. The research approach is a single exploratory case study. Auara is analysed using various foci, based on a range of theories and concepts derived from the existing literature on social enterprises. The primary data is obtained through a semi-structured interview with Auara, and are combined with secondary sources in terms of more interviews, documentary evidence, documents gathered from web pages, and public reports on social entrepreneurial activity in Spain. From reviewing the literature, the concepts of social value creation, stakeholder management and legitimacy emerge as important themes. During the data collection, we allowed for further development of relevant themes for our research topic. Thus we could add concepts of sustainability and personality traits of the social entrepreneur. The study finds that Auara has been successful at implementing a business model in which social and economic value creation are mutually supportive and reinforcing. In spite of the obstacles posed by the Spanish socio-economic and socio-cultural context, especially the lack of awareness of social entrepreneurship and the inherent disadvantages of being a small enterprise, Auara has been able to acquire a market share, and create both economic and social value. This is achieved through the engagement of stakeholders, and the ability to communicate clearly its mission and social value. Furthermore, the emphasis of sustainability adds an innovative dimension to Auara’s business activities. The study finds that by accomplishing its social mission, Auara is able to acquire legitimacy, which is crucial for its survival. The contribution of this thesis is the provision of an empirical investigation of a social enterprise in Spain. The aim is not to suggest generalisations about social entrepreneurial activity in Spain - rather this thesis serves to illuminate the supportive and inhibiting elements related to the activities behind the success of a social enterprise, and provide foundation for further inquiry.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture - Business and Development Studies, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages123
SupervisorsMaribel Blasco