Business and philanthropy are two words that haven’t always been seen together, and some might argue they're polar opposites. Things like corporate social responsibility have always existed, but often in silos, unrelated to the core mission of an organization. Here at The Grommet, we've noticed a growing trend recently where these lines are crossing and companies are existing to do good and watch their bottom line at the same time. More and more companies are popping up that combine a social change aspect such as donating their products, or a portion of their proceeds to a charitable organization.
So is the business world shifting to be more conscious overall?
We think the answer is yes. Looking at the world holistically, we see a far different place than even 20 years ago. Technology has allowed us to operate on a global scale and the internet has created a whole new way to create change, which people are finding new ways to do every day (think crowdfunding platforms which is a fairly new business). The line between business and good has blurred as more companies realize their obligation and potential to help their customers, community and other stakeholders.
So where is the proof that ventures big and small are increasingly paying attention to this idea? The co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, John Mackey, recently wrote a book called Conscious Capitalism where he argues that businesses today must exist for both profit and good if they are to have long term value. He cites well known companies such as Starbucks and UPS as leaders (to name just a few). Yet there’s no need to be a corporate giant to take part. Many young businesses are laying the groundwork early, incorporating it into their core mission. Tom's Shoes has recently announced a new marketplace where they'll be offering a platform for social entrepreneurs to sell their products.
Our proof in the proverbial pudding is that we’re partnering with more and more Makers who are creating innovative products while also striving to create social good. Esperos backpacks launched this past summer and for each bag purchased, one child in a developing country is sent to school for an entire year. How’s that for feeling good about your purchase? Another one of our Grommets, Waka Waka, combines each purchase with a subsidized solar light that goes to a country with no electricity. The winner of our Product Pitch event last year, Thinx, is a women’s underwear startup that plans to donate feminine products to women in countries where these products aren’t available.
The culture around social good is increasing with each generation and millennials today appear to be more motivated for change than their predecessors. We can only hope they serve as an inspiration to future generations of social entrepreneurs and keep the trend going.