Social change, social parity, economic empowerment – it all sounds like a leftist, liberal wish list, doesn’t it? But what if this was actually possible – not through demonstrations and protests and May Day marches – but through direct action. A business model which is the antithesis of the one that is based on satisfying shareholders’ appetite for profit. One which also shuns handouts in favour of fair wages.
That is what Social Business is all about!
This is by no means a new idea, and I am, in no way whatsoever, the first to believe in it or write about it. This is a growing movement which puts business right at the front and centre of the fightback against inequalities of all sorts – economic, social and environmental. The aim is quite simple – generate opportunities for people who live in poverty and then reinvest the income to further those opportunities to bring about social parity.
Just to be clear – a social business is, after all, a business. An economic activity which needs to be profitable to be sustainable. So, businesses like ours do not shy away from the idea of making a profit. However, selling is not our only goal. Our second goal, which is equally as important, is creating a social impact not only in the lives of the artisans who we work with, but also in the lives of the customers that we serve. Our ultimate aim is to revive and bring to the mainstream arts and crafts that are on the verge of being lost to the world so that these talented artisans can earn a respectable wage and also pass on their skills to more.
Mighty oaks from little acorns grow, they say. It sure takes time, but it does happen. According to a recent independent analysis, the Social Enterprise sector contributes £60bn to the UK GDP, nearly three times larger than the agricultural sector! There are about a 100,000 social enterprises employing over 2 million people! All involved in this quest to bring about a social impact.
So, when you buy from a social enterprise, you’re not adding to the coffers of a multi-million pound corporation. You are helping change the world, one small but perfectly good idea at a time. You are helping create a slightly more equal society.
I’ll end this post with the words of Gandhi which tell us that personal and social transformation go hand in hand and which I feel are quite apt for the Social Enterprise movement – both for the businesses and our customers without whose help we would not be successful.
If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do.
And on that positive note, here’s to more positive change and a better society.