What would you do if you won the lottery?
Recently I came up with a decidedly terrific answer to this. I’ve since discovered that my idea is not original, so I’ll have to shelve it. But I’ll stick with the same concept because its a good one: social enterprise. For a lottery winner needs a purpose, not a pay check.Social enterprise is by far and away the smartest business model there is. It’s not charity, it’s business. Where a charity will rely on a spasmodic supply of grants and donations to provide goods or services, a social enterprise will generate profit to invest in social capital. A social enterprise will pursue profit with the vigour of a corporation. It will just do so with social outcomes, not shareholders, in mind.
Social enterprise has what corporations don’t – the smug factor. It’s a marketing edge that money can’t buy.
There are some things we have to spend our money on – water, food, stationery. These are not emotional purchases. It’s not a matter of whether we’ll spend that money, it’s where. Say you face a choice between two equally sized bottles of water. Buy one and 50 cents in the dollar goes to CocaCola shareholders. Buy the other and 40 cents in the dollar (100% of the profit) goes back into building a business that supplies clean water to communities in need. It’s an easy choice.
But, it takes social entrepreneurs to build these businesses, to take great ideas and commercialise them not for their own wealth but for social good. And it takes us to support these people. It’s we who can for those who need.I’ve written before about Pollinate Energy, a social enterprise helping to bring employment and affordable solar lighting to people in off-the-grid slum communities in India. It was in Bangalore, working for Pollinate that I first learnt about social enterprise. My friend Emily is off to India to work with Pollinate as they expand into new and bigger cities. If you love this idea, you could be awfully kind and support Emily here. A more local example comes from the people at Thankyou. Thankyou started as a very simple business – selling water to people who can afford it to fund water for those who can’t. Thankyou has expanded into body products and snacks and they are looking to tackle baby products next. They are also looking to expand their market reach across the channel to New Zealand. But the baby line, and New Zealand, cost money. Unlike a corporation, they don’t have the funds to back new products and rapid expansion. So this is where we come in. Where my love of social enterprise and books has married up in the most pleasing way.
The founders of Thankyou have written a book. It’s called ‘Chapter 1: you have the power to change stuff’ and their hope is that it funds Chapter 2: baby and New Zealand. I read recently that entrepreneurship is like looking both ways before crossing the road and then being hit by an aeroplane, so no doubt the founders of Thankyou have some formidable learnings to impart.
But don’t listen to me. Hear it for yourself below. You’ll love it. And you’ll realise, as I did, that you don’t need a lottery win to do something good.
Ordinarily I would read the book and then write about it here. But, this once, I’ve decided to work backwards. So that we can buy it and read it together!
Go on, buy it with me. You have the power to change stuff, you just have to start somewhere.
Thought Leader(s): Thankyou
Book(s): Flynn, Daniel (2016) ‘Chapter one: You have the power to change stuff’, Watermark.