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One Million Cell Phone Challenge

February 18, 2009

by Brian Weinberg, Director, Recycle to Eradicate Poverty

[caption id="attachment_68" align="alignleft" width="128" caption="Brian Weinberg (left)"]Brian visiting local water well[/caption]

Each of us has a unique set of convictions to pursue.  My own fell into place unexpectedly, after I read a Fortune Magazine article highlighting Dr. Muhammad Yunus's vision to "put poverty into the museums."

I had just arrived home, after studying Spanish in Buenos Aires and trekking 2,858 miles (4600km) alone throughout South America. Reading this article summoned the mental snapshots of several "Shanty Towns" from my recent trip, inspiring a personal call to action.

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.

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