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Review + Reflection from a Social Business of a different sort (Pt. 2 of 2)

May 19, 2008

Jeff Delkin, co-founder, bambu

It’s our belief, that we have a responsibility to ‘give back’ to the planet and to the communities where we operate. It has always been central to who we are. We wanted to recognize and benefit the communities in which we work and live. And that place is China. While we may not be a social business as Yunus describes, we do provide support and volunteer services to the work of Grameen Foundation in China. We do donate over 1% of our total sales (not just profits) to non-profit organizations preserving and restoring the natural environment in China and around the world. We do donate to the local schools where the children of many our or craftspeople attend.

We are not a social business in the strictest sense of the word. We are a for profit company that strives to do good. And as such, I am not convinced that the social business model that Yunus describes is the best model.

Yunus argues that businesses with a social responsible strategy will have too often forego their good corporate citizenship for profit motives. And unfortunately, too often this does happen. But it happens to organizations which have not integrated their principles firmly into their business.

A simple spectrum of business models could look like this.

Social Business > Compassionate Capitalism > Profit Focused Capitalism

Our own business reflects more the ‘Compassionate Capitalism’ model. Yunus supports globalization and believes it brings more benefits than its alternative. He also recognizes the importance of marketing by conducting product testing, naming and identity development, and a tiered pricing strategy. Given that, businesses that practice compassionate capitalism can benefit many.

Review + Reflection from a Social Business of a different sort (Pt. 1 of 2)

May 12, 2008

Jeff Delkin, co-founder, bambu

I was inspired to write this post for a couple of reasons.

We first became aware of Grameen Bank while living in Asia. More recently we’re personally involved on a volunteer committee to help raise awareness for the work Grameen Foundation is doing in China.

Secondly as founders of a small business, bambu, we are interested in the concept of ‘social business’ that Dr Yunus’ introduces in his new book, Creating a World Without Poverty.
Central to our sense of purpose and value set at bambu, we concern ourselves with responsible stewardship of resources, giving back to the people and the communities in which we work in China and Vietnam, and preservation of the natural environment.

We strive to create an organization that acts with integrity. We describe ourselves as a values-driven company as opposed to a profit-driven company.

Dr. Yunus’ book presents some paradigm-breaking ideas that are a positive force for change, and made me reflect on our own business, and the role of business in general.

The notion of ‘social business’ is introduced in the first few pages. Yunus makes some important distinctions in defining what a social business is.

Importantly, he distinguishes a social business as one that directly makes products that poor people are willing to pay for, and one which directs all the profits back into the enterprise.

Positive Thoughts, Positive Actions, PositiviTees

May 06, 2008

Heidi Matonis, Founder & President, Positivitee

About three years ago I came up with the idea of creating stylish tees that supported non-profits with 10% donated back to the charity. It grew out of my desire to: be a role model for my children, support causes dear to me, and to try to create a small, viable business to call my own.

In 2007 I made the commitment to “go green.” “Going green” to me meant using certified organic cotton, pigment dyes, waterbase inks, and fair labor practices. I went a step further by also becoming a member of the carbon fund to offset my carbon shipping footprint. None of this was easy.

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