Companies that identify as socially-driven or value-aligned are growing in number and lasting longer. There are now hundreds of thousands of businesses in North America that consider themselves “social enterprises.” Their goals are to combine profit with bringing a benefit to society and those goals are as diverse as the businesses that aim to achieve them.
It’s not hard to imagine why smaller, entrepreneurial companies are leading the way when it comes to socially-driven, value-aligned business. Startup entrepreneurs can align their companies closely with their values and vision comparatively easily. When they first start out, they are their brands. But staying committed to value-alignment as they grow is turning into a recipe for success, not just with consumers but with an increasing number of investor-led efforts as well.
Why Value Is Everything For Future Businesses
There are more efforts to fund these kinds of value-aligned businesses too. In Canada, an effort to fund women-led, socially-driven companies turned into a financial tool called Radical Generosity, where women entrepreneurs were asked to contribute $1,000 each to fund women-owned businesses. Although the money is a loan, the contributors don’t expect to see a return.
The recipients pay back the loan to pay it forward to a new round of businesses, while the original “activators” build closer relationships with companies that will go into new rounds of funding.
Radical Generosity funded companies like Abeego, a socially-driven enterprise that makes beeswax food covers – and does so much more. Toni Desrosiers founded the company to rethink how we relate to food. The company slogan, Keep Food Alive, is about rethinking the kitchen from the ground up.
Beeswax food covers are only the beginning – they were designed to replace the natural peel or rind one finds on vegetables or cheeses that let the food inside breathe. Desrosiers also promotes the idea of being a wholehearted pioneer when it comes to rethinking food. It’s a philosophy that finds common cause with movements like zero-waste, local food, and mindful living.
Not only are there more efforts to fund and support value-aligned businesses, there’s increasing awareness of how women are changing the business world – and the obstacles that remain in place. In a study of gender differences among entrepreneurs, men were found to be twice as likely to raise over $100K in funding, with 12% surveyed, while only 5% of women entrepreneurs had raised funding beyond the $100K benchmark.
Companies like Abeego that have benefited from Radical Generosity demonstrate the kind of social thinking that more consumers are looking for when they take out their wallets. They’re not just looking for a quick fix or the cheapest product out there. Consumers want to know that their dollars are supporting an organization that they feel good about.
Mega-brands are seeing high numbers of defecting consumers, not to mention PR challenges in a social media-driven world, because consumers don’t believe that large, legacy companies stand for anything but profit margins. The key to success in a more socially-conscious business world is doing what you believe in and aligning your company to those values in everything it does.
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