At THR3EFOLD, we are very passionate about business being the key to truly changing the world. Not only for the economically blessed but for the currently oppressed. We’ve seen massive strides in the last decade as social enterprise models have become more prevalent and expected in business. Here are 3 models you can choose to align your business with, and why we ultimately shifted ours.
1 | DONATION
Traditionally, most people think of nonprofits when they think of organizations making a meaningful impact in the lives of at-risk people groups near and far. There are many for-profit businesses that choose to donate a percentage of their sales to a local charity working to impact an area they want to support, and this can be a great thing.The organization focuses on that impact full time, year round and have cultivated the trust and respect of the community needed in order to make a difference. Likewise, the brand is able to build awareness and support as they grow.
WHY THIS MAY NOT WORK
THR3EFOLD actually started with this model. It was a good start for us to begin because we were able to partner with an organization already making a difference in an area where we were passionate, while we worked to find our niche in the market. However, after a while we were dissatisfied with the limited amount of impact we felt we were actually making. We have a big picture vision for shifting the fashion industry to be a catalyst to change people’s lives not the cause for sustained poverty, and in order to do this we needed a social enterprise model that involved more vertical integration.
2 | ONE FOR ONE
TOMS did something massive for our modern society, they broke open the concept that making a difference meant you had to be a non-profit organization into a natural for-profit model. The simple idea that profit wasn’t a four letter word and that with each purchase you were able to make a tangible difference in someone’s life is contagious. This model has been replicated by many brands and has brought some great change in communities around the world.
WHY THIS MAY NOT WORK
The biggest issue with this model is the actual difference you are making. TOMS has gotten a lot of flack for giving a bunch of shoes people did not necessarily need and most importantly putting local cobblers and merchants out of business in the process. We will not fault them for trying to make a difference, sometime you cannot foresee all the effects when you set out to make a difference. So, we urge you when implementing a one for one model to be as strategic as possible with the local economy and their real needs.
3 | LOCAL ECONOMY
Speaking of local economy, it’s our favorite social enterprise model. No matter what people group or cause you support, nationally or globally, by being intentional about where you source, how you manufacture, who you sell through, you are able to build those communities in strength and longevity. For us it’s the simple concept of if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day, if you teach a man to fish, he eats for life. People don’t need a handout, they need a job that allows them to financially plan their life, build a future for their family and live the life they dream of.
BE THE CHANGE
We’d love to help you partner with local economies abroad to provide that future for marginalized but incredibly skilled people groups while you grow your business. Email us to learn more about ethical manufacturing and to find a factory that fits your needs.
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