An impressive product, excellent customer service and clever marketing campaigns are all well and good, but in today’s world of competitive business, customers want more. Much more.
Customers want to vote for the kind of world they want to live in with each and every dollar they spend. They want to do business with businesses that reflect their personal values, and who take social responsibility for their line of work.
In fact, a Nielsen study in 2015 found that 66 per cent of consumers were willing to pay more for sustainable brands (that’s up from 55 per cent in 2014) and Cone Communications discovered that corporate social responsibility influences whether millennials choose to work for an organisation or not.
Case in point, entrepreneurship that contributes to the greater social good is a big deal and customers care. If you’re thinking of starting a socially conscious business, or repositioning your established business model so you create profit, but also give back to community in a meaningful way, these three social enterprises set an example of how business can be used to drive social change.
Joining Hands supports homeless and vulnerable young people to access health and wellbeing services. Founder Kylie Lowe is a cancer survivor who has a background in psychology, 17 years’ experience in the youth homelessness sector, and is a qualified natural therapist who recognised an unmet need in her community in Brisbane. “Every night in Australia, 44,000 young people are homeless. I believe that everybody has the right to live a life filled with joy, health and purpose, and have seen first-hand the impact of trauma and abuse on the mental and physical health of these young people. Many have shared that they have never been touched by another in a healthy non-violent way,” shared Kylie.
Joining Hand’s designed a GiveBack Program in 2012, which collaborates and partners with other businesses, health spaces and individuals across Australia to provide a client with a health and wellbeing service – maybe a massage, yoga class, meditation session, acupuncture, counselling, naturopathy consultation, hairdresser or reiki (there’s plenty to choose from), while also gifting the same to a vulnerable young person in need. “For every one health and wellbeing service provided, we give back one health and wellbeing service to a homeless and vulnerable young person through our community GiveBack Program.” To date, Joining Hands has supported 2,761 young vulnerable people to access another way to heal and recover that they would not normally be able to afford.
Inspirationery is another impressive social enterprise that prioritises making a difference. In fact, this ethically made and eco-friendly stationery label donates 50 per cent of its profits to support women and girls through education and leadership programs delivered by charitable partners Plan International Australia and Care Australia. In Cassie Dewar’s words, the founder of Inspirationery, “When women are given the right opportunities, they transform the world.” Around the world, 63 million girls currently are not in school and millions more are fighting to stay there. Without access to an education, women will never have the chance to reach their full potential… Investing in women is a really good investment not only for the individual, but also for the community and the rest of the world. It’s smart economics. “For every $1 invested will yield $6.40-$17.60 in return,” Cassie explained. Inspirationery products are also great for the planet. They are made from lustrous eco-friendly paper and vivid vegetable inks, crafted through the most fair and green ways possible.
And then there’s Lush Cosmetics Australia, which not only sell natural, handmade cosmetics that smell divine, but who campaign actively on social causes and give back in creative, innovate ways. Brand communications manager Natasha Ritz explained: “Lush is founded on the three ethical pillars of animal welfare, human rights and environmental sustainability through the way our staff are recruited, how our products are purchased, which suppliers we work with and, of course, campaigning on issues like marriage equality and transgender rights, to save the Great Barrier Reef, and people seeking asylum from Manus Island.” Their products are also 100 per cent vegetarian, purchased and made ethically, do not support animal testing, are completely handmade and have naked packaging (so no unnecessary packaging and less plastic!).
So, if you plan to integrate social good into your business, find an issue that means something to you, ensure it connects to the overall mission and values of your brand, and make yourself, your employees and your customers feel good by helping others.
To learn more about the social enterprises featured in this article and other businesses who are working to create a better world, visit the Dream For Others podcast by award-winning business and life passion coach, entrepreneur, writer and speaker Naomi Arnold.