By Meghan Farrington
As millennials make their way into the workforce, becoming the largest segment of the U.S. labor market along the way, they are bringing a new business culture with them. These recent college graduates have grown up experiencing the drawbacks of business; witnessing their parents struggle over bills, lack of job security, and layoffs. Experiencing these drawbacks makes it difficult to put our trust into the business world, which is exactly why the new faces of business are trying to change it for the better.
It doesn’t stop at the employees of these companies; even consumers are changing their purchasing decisions based on the meaning, social impact, and ethical decisions made by major corporations. For instance, Tom’s Shoe Company based their entire marketing strategy around the fact that 40% of the world’s consumers are interested in social impact, meaning if your brand doesn’t have a strong sense of authentic purpose, you run the risk of quickly becoming irrelevant. According to the Mintel Research Report, only 36% of consumers say they trust big businesses to do the right thing, while 58% of consumers revealed that buying ethically-produced products makes them feel good. Studies are supporting the concept of businesses taking a major turn in direction towards incorporating meaning into their work.
It is no secret that businesses exist to meet their bottom line. Their goals are solely based on keeping their investors and shareholders happy, while turning a sizable profit. The better kept secret, is that for-profit business is not the only form of business. The new business model on the block is called Social Entrepreneurship, which is a hybrid of both for-profit and non-profit business models. They do not exist solely to make a sizeable profit, nor solely to keep shareholders happy. They exist to support their social mission: a desire to positively impact the world and its culture. Social Entrepreneurship is growing considerably, which is why it is so important to spread the word about what Social Entrepreneurship really is and what it has to offer.
Social Enterprises are growing rapidly, which is causing a spark in local networking hub spaces such as New York’s Echoing Green, and Rhode Island’s very own Social Enterprise Greenhouse located in Providence. Looking at SEG specifically, they offer not only a space for social entrepreneurs to connect and access support in which to build their businesses, but they offer Accelerator programs to educate young entrepreneurs who may have brilliant ideas, but lack a strong business background. Some examples of Social Enterprises that started up through SEG include Mike’s Ice Truck and Unicorn Goods. Mike’s Ice was started by Major Pettaway and Sadam Salas, friends who experienced the loss of a fellow veteran from a fatal car accident. That loss drove their passion for improvement of Veteran homelessness and care within the US, leading to the creation of a Thai style ice cream truck to roam around Providence. A large percentage of the trucks proceeds help to fund that very cause. Unicorn Goods, on the other hand, created a website that sells vegan alternatives to popular fashion. According to Cayla Mackey, Unicorn Goods’ cofounder and CEO, animal by-products are used in almost every consumer product from the paint on our walls to the buttons on our shirts. Cayla created the website to help do her part in decreasing the usage of animal by-products within the textile industry. The website is currently the largest online vegan magazine in the US.
Social Entrepreneurship is on the rise because it allows the American public to feel good about their culture and day-to-day lifestyle. By adding meaning to our work and/or social impact to our purchases, we can successfully improve our country.