When I explained to friends, family, and colleagues back home what I was going to do here in Santiago, many people looked at me inquisitively and asked, “What does it mean to be a social business?”
At its core, a social business exists to create value (or benefit, hence the “B” in B Corporation) for the community or the environment, in addition to its investors. The social business considers the generation of profit as a means to achieve its social goals, not as the entire purpose of its existence.
Check out this video from B Labs – a U.S. based non-profit that provides certification to businesses as a seal of it’s commitment to social, economic and/or environmental change:
You can also watch the Spanish version HERE.
- Take Lumni for example. Lumni’s purpose is to provide access to funding so that more young people can afford to go to college. They help organize loans from private investors allowing talented young students – who otherwise would have no financing options – to pay their way through school. After they graduate, they back the loan through a small percent of their salary each month. Investors are repaid in both monetary and social benefit.
In addition to goals beyond making profits, social businesses incorporate sound practices in the areas of governance and transparency, treatment and compensation of employees, suppliers and distributors and attention to environmental issues related to their business.
The movement towards social, and hence more sustainable business is young, but it’s powerful. The ultimate goal of the movement is simple – to cease to exist because ALL businesses operate as such. We, as consumers, have the power to make that happen!
Here are some ways you can get involved!
- Be a cautious consumer! Sites like Vine.com help you identify socially-conscious brands (hint, on the “speciality shops” drop down menu search for B Corporation certified companies
- Seek employment with B Corporations and other companies focused on positive impact
- Hold yourself to high standards of social and environmental practices in your personal life – be kind, don’t waste and recycle!