4 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Create Avenues for Social Change Business leaders have the power to make the world a better place.
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Customers expect more these days from those they do business with — more than simply providing a product or service. In fact, research indicates that 71% of millennial consumers in the United States are actually willing to pay more for a product or service when they know that some of the company's profits go to charity. 64% of consumers actively avoid brands with societal views that they disapprove of.
To align with their customers' attitudes, companies of all sizes can and should be looking for ways to create positive social change. Doing so doesn't just make you more appealing to your target audience, it also helps your business become something more than itself.
1. Encourage volunteering by your employees
One of the simplest ways to create positive community change is to actively encourage your entire team to volunteer. Many organizations need people to fulfill a variety of tasks just as much as they would benefit from financial donations. Scheduling a specific date for your entire team to volunteer at a local charity can have a tremendous impact for good in helping them accomplish their goals.
Some companies even provide grants to nonprofits when their employees volunteer at their organization. For example, Microsoft provides $25 grants for each hour an employee volunteers at an organization — they also match employee nonprofit donations up to $15,000 per year.
Notably, 70% of employees say that volunteer activities do a better job of boosting morale than company-sponsored happy hours, and 77% of workers say that volunteering events are essential to their well-being as employees.
Related: 5 Ways Volunteering Helps You Do Well While Doing Good
2. Foster ethics in your own business practices
The way you go about doing business says a lot about your commitment to true social change. Everything from the way you treat your employees to the resources you use to manufacture or transport your products will reflect on your commitment to positive change. What you do should always line up with what you say.
For example, if you are passionate about climate change, the best way to start creating social change is to ensure that your own business practices are environmentally-focused. This could involve actions such as sourcing product materials from sustainable sources, using solar energy to power your facility or partnering with other eco-focused organizations for fundraising and other events.
Of course, your people are your most valuable asset, and should always be a top priority in any effort to create social change. Treating employees in an ethical manner improves their standard of living and broadens their potential impact for good.
3. Partner with other organizations
Many entrepreneurs want to solve societal problems that extend well beyond their local community. This requires systemic change and a deep understanding of what problems exist and what is necessary to fix them.
Entrepreneurs, nonprofits and other organizations may lack the knowledge or resources to fully address these issues on their own. But through official partnerships, organizations can share resources to spearhead new initiatives that will achieve a much broader (and more effective) reach than either could on their own.
Hiruy Amanuel, Managing Director of GullitVC and a major investor in Africa's technological advancement, highlighted the potential of such partnerships during an interview with The Trent.
He explained, "Capacity building has many long-term benefits. The process allows for sustainable growth, but to achieve that, business owners have to be committed and actively participate. In Africa, capacity building would allow for the continent to develop further and sever external reliance. If the success of the continent is put into the hands of African organization owners, that process instills the people with empowerment, unity, self-reliance, integration, as well as solidarity."
Related: How Entrepreneurs Can Make a Real Change?
4. Become a mentor
One of the most important ways an entrepreneur can create change is by paving the way for others to follow in their footsteps. Research has found that entrepreneurship greatly increases a person's chances for moving out of poverty — and staying out of poverty.
Successful businesses create a stable source of income for entrepreneurs and the people they employ. Their products or services can improve the quality of life for their community. Further, their local investments can support social causes. Your willingness to share your time and knowledge can make all the difference in helping others on their path to success.
Consider the following case study from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
"When Lorena Cantarovici first set her sights on entrepreneurship, she attended a workshop run by a SBA Denver Small Business Development Center that helped her develop her first business plan. Lorena's love for hand-crafted empanadas turned into a thriving small business. Early on, she got counseling from the SBDC on accounting, marketing, legal issues and risk management. As demand soared, her business grew and she was able to move from a converted kitchen in her garage to a storefront."
Make entrepreneurship about more than business
While ensuring that your entrepreneurial efforts turn a profit is certainly important, this shouldn't be the be-all and end-all of why you do what you do. Your products or services don't have to be focused on creating social change for you to be able to address causes you care about.
By looking at your business activities as an opportunity to promote meaningful societal change, you can ensure that your impact goes far beyond your own wallet.