Towards A Sustainable Future For the first time in the history of business, social and economic causes are blending

By Ritu Marya

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We live in an era of disruption wherein powerful global forces are changing how we live and work. Their impact is touching all countries, sectors, companies and, increasingly, workers and the environment. Amid these sweeping changes, businesses have also imbibed the mission to make the world a better place with the Sustainable Development Goals pertaining to ESG (environmental, social and governance). Founders and investors are factoring non-financial goals as part of their term sheets to identify material risks and growth opportunities.

Two larger goals are very clearly emerging in this new wave of business psychology. Revolutionary ideas married with responsible goals are becoming the larger mission of the startup world. Here, new business ideas are not confused with marketing or corporate philanthropy. Instead, they come with a concrete plan with quantifiable business outcomes and a measurable and definitive societal impact on saving the Earth. Right from agritech to new energy to waste disposal, organic to vegan to refurbishing, reusing, recycling, and circular usage patterns, we are distinctly seeing these new business shades emerge strongly. The second is profit with purpose. Business growth strategies are today more elaborate than just being simply profit-driven, and the company's leadership is invested today to ensure that social impact is at the top of the business agenda. Both are interrelated and yet different streams of thought. The first mission is emerging on the startup side and profit with purpose is coming from the established businesses stable. It will move from strength to strength as talent, more than capital, will represent a critical factor in production.

Our current issue "The Makers Co.' is focused on the D2C industry. Currently valued at $44.6 billion at the end of the fiscal year 2021 compared with $20 billion in 2018, the meteoric rise of the industry has come from its mission to make the everyday products we use to be better, safer, less toxic, local and personalised, and it's clear that direct brands have succeeded by delivering on these values that matter most to a new generation of shoppers. With meat brand Licious recently attaining Unicorn status and other brands such as Mamaearth, Wakefit and Country Delight crossing INR 100 crore of revenue in a rather short span of time, the playing field is open for all. We also take a deeper look into the government's bid to democratize the e-commerce segment with the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC). T. Koshy, CEO, ONDC, shares his insights as to how the network could act as a game-changer for digital trade.

Online retailing has also given entrepreneurs an opportunity to break into traditional business spaces, businesses that are set in their ways. One such business is the after-sales car servicing business. We gauge how digital brands are venturing into standardising the market and the challenges that they face while doing it. An important phenomenon that has taken the news pieces around the startup hemisphere by storm recently has been the layoffs that big-name brands such as Meesho, Unacademy, and Trell, among others, have had to make recently. We delve into the reasons behind layoffs that are happening and how impactful will they be for the startup ecosystem in the long run.

Ritu Marya

Editor-in-Chief, Entrepreneur Media (APAC & India)

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