In the second of her guest posts, blogger Sara Benaissa takes a look at how social enterprises are inspiring the move towards conscious capitalism.
The signs are everywhere; society is no longer blinkered towards the future and ignoring the lessons of the past, we are now realising that past traditions and customs were in place for a reason, because they worked. This ‘back to basics’ outlook is best described as bringing back some of the old ways that should never have disappeared, while not forgetting the importance of progression.
From the reemergence of artisan bakers and butchers to home decor; open brick, stripped floors, wooden chairs, cork in places you didn’t realise cork ever needed to be, to fair trade and the raw food movement. For the first time, we are trying to find a balance between innovation and protecting that what should be preserved, all to improve our daily lives.
This then translates into much wider spheres such as community spirit, which has been growing thanks to rather unconventional origins, including the internet, social media and even tinder. Our digital lives bleeding into our ‘real’ lives was always bound to happen, many people worry about the effect our smartphone obsessed lives are having on us, but if we remained anchored on the positives of the digital revolution, hyper connectivity actually unites people in a very real way; it can globalize movements, squash dictatorships, brush away traditional borders and is the only form of ‘free’ communication that currently exists.
Corporate social responsibility was of course born from this growing collectivity because people started to want to buy from companies that share their values, companies that want to bring about positive change. A common philosophy that prevails in the current status quo is that happiness comes from bringing something good to the world, whether it is donating a percentage of all earning to charity, exchanging trade on a like for like basis, crowd funding or bringing something back to the community. People and importantly companies are favouring a ‘human’ approach to making money, the clichéd dog-eat-dog capitalism is quickly becoming passé; people are waking up to the fact that profit and doing good in the world are not arch enemies, and can come together to create businesses that also gives something back to society.
A great example of the changing face of business is the Real Junk Food Project, a company that intervenes between the supplier and the supermarket, or from the supermarket to landfill to stop perfectly edible food going in the bin, the ‘waste’ food is then made into lovely café grub and sold on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis so that any person can afford to eat there. The concept started in Leeds and has now grown to have multiple cafes across the country and the world. Bounceback Food is of course another great example, a company that prides itself on its social impact: the same product you buy is the same product donated to your nearest UK food bank.
Bounceback Food and the Real Junk Food Project are examples of social enterprises that show how positive social impact can be created by meeting our needs as consumers in a sustainable, ethical manner. Problem solving, rather than profit maximising, should determine how businesses in the 21st century help those in need to bounceback.