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ethical business

Do You Think About Social Change?

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, and since this might be the last post for 2018...warmest wishes for a wonderful Christmas and here's to a new year full of promise!

A New Ethical Business Experience

What a difference a year makes in the life of an ethical business! The last post is from precisely a year ago when we had just added our new line of handmade Christmas cards and the festive season was just about to begin. Well, this is exactly where we're at - at least season-wise - but lots of things have changed!  

A new identity

We changed our name from Ethicological to Ethiqana earlier this year. We'd arrived at the original name after a lot of deliberations and combinations but it turns out it wasn't very easy on the tongue nor was it easy to remember. Cue, another back to the drawing board exercise. Lots of head scratching, hours of research into memorability and many many searches for available domain names later, we decided on Ethiqana. It's short and sweet and we think it conveys our sense of ethics and ethical business.  

A new platform

Speaking of ethical business, we'd always been a bit uneasy selling only on Amazon. But as a startup with limited funds, we had no other choice but to bite the bullet and gain access to a market place of millions of customers. It did work to a certain extent and we'd like to thank each and every customer whom we could serve on Amazon. However, we made a decision early on in the year that rather than finding another platform, we're going to bring e-commerce to our very own website. The time frame? Summer of 2018! I love deadlines, don't you? Needless to say, it didn't happen and we finally launched our new website with our e-shop last week - 23rd November 2018. Nothing to do with the cult of Black Friday, before you ask. It was a date which we'd picked and decided to stick to it.  

New product lines

Well this was the most interesting and also perhaps the most challenging part. Finding suppliers whom you can trust is a big thing! But we have been very fortunate in finding people and organisations who are on the same wavelength as us, care about reviving old art forms and are passionate about sustainability and empowering artisans. Creating new designs and selecting from existing ones was a very satisfying process and we're sure that our friends and fans would love them too. Have a look and see if something takes your fancy.  

What's next?

Well, in the most immediate sense, we're off to our Christmas Market stall in Milton Keynes from tomorrow where we're hoping to wow more people with our collections. But yes, there are plans hatching already about our next steps in the new year - all along the lines of how to bring to our friends and fans all that is ethical, real and sustainable, all that is Ethiqana!

We’re officially a social enterprise!

Ethiqana was founded upon an ethos - ethically sourced, eco-friendly products that provide sustainable livelihoods and make complete sense! Our aim is to be able to bring to the mainstream the arts and crafts of all those artisans whose livelihoods have been stifled by the unhindered march of modern industrialisation processes. We also recognise that today's world comes with challenges unforeseen in terms of ecological conservation and so the second of our objectives is to foster eco-friendly innovation.

With this intent, we applied for the membership of Social Enterprise UK and we are extremely grateful and immensely proud to have been accepted as a member. Quite literally, made our day!

For the uninitiated, Social Enterprise UK is the largest network of businesses with a social and/or environmental purpose. They have been at the forefront of driving the social enterprise movement in the UK which aims to make doing business in this way the "usual way". Social Enterprise UK has also been instrumental in ensuring that the Social Value Act became law which requires public bodies to take into account the social value when selecting providers rather than just cost. So, suffice to say, we're chuffed to bits to get this certification and will proudly be displaying the badge of honour!

Ethical business? Yes, please!

A business is, by definition, an endeavour to make money. Traditionally, businesses have focused on profit which meant amassing wealth for the business owners, caring little or not at all for the machinery (read people) that keeps the business running.

However, with more awareness of the geopolitical situations in the world made possible, in no small measure, by 24x7 TV channels and the growth of the internet, the idea of ethical businesses has taken hold and rightly so. For it is not implausible to think that a commercial activity can be mutually beneficial to the owner of the business and the wider society and environment that it is dependent on. Sounds quite fair and logical, doesn't it? The idea for Ethiqana was borne out of such thinking. There is plenty of art and innovation out there - some that has existed for centuries and more that are constantly evolving to suit the needs of the modern world. There is a massive need for economic empowerment of the communities of artisans who have been left to fend for themselves simply because their art forms do not fit the modern narrative. Either that or massive factories churn out cheap alternatives, often at the expense of the environment and at such a rate that these talented workers don't stand a chance against this greedy industrial juggernaut. And while it is important for us to focus on the needs of the artisans, we must not take our eyes off the ecological innovation ball. For it is the lifeline for our planet if we are to keep it habitable for our future generations.

That is why, at Ethiqana, we take great care in our selection of the range of items we bring to you - ethically sourced, eco-friendly products, providing sustainable livelihoods which make total sense. And as we grow, we will continue to invest and re-invest in our valuable sources and hope to make a small positive contribution in our own way. Like a true ethical business.

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