Just a reminder to check out our most recent campaign with Earth Rangers, to learn more about our campaign click here. For the next few months, Shopanthropic will be promoting a collection of kid-friendly journals and finger puppets to raise funds for Earth Rangers. 25% of sale proceeds from this collection will go to benefit Earth Rangers.
The Tata Group, one of the largest conglomerates India, has recently developed a $700 house, making another huge stride in the social enterprise space in this emerging market. Tata, who earlier designed the Nano, the world’s cheapest car, has designed a sturdy, convenient, and easily assembled, 215 square foot house. All you need is a plot of land. In designing the house, the company consulted with rural village councils over matters such as design, the needs and wants of villagers, and costs.
From this example of ingenuity and a desire to build a better world, we can learn a lot. The first lesson is the fact that building businesses to service the poor, rather than focusing on an NGO to do so, can utilize the best aspects of a market economy in service of the poor. The second is the value of microfinance in order to give poverty-stricken entrepreneurs the chance to launch businesses. The third is to focus on the basics. Start small, think of the basic necessities and skills of the people in the region and utilize these to create a business plan.
Is the $700 house an end to slums or homelessness? What are your thoughts?
Can you teach someone to be a social entrepreneur? This has been a subject of discussion for many people as we continue to try to further the momentum that is taking place in Canada and around the world. Through various programs around the world, young people are getting chance to learn to be social innovators and change makers. However, is social enterprise a learnable concept? Or is it something that requires innate abilities? Is it passion or wisdom that makes a social enterprise succeed? Or is it experience and industry knowledge? Does it need local expertise or can it be organically-produced?
Can you teach somehow the skills it takes to change the world? What are your thoughts?
As we continue to bring together a collection of beautiful and ethically-made products from communities around the world, we are constantly updating our website. So made sure you check it out at www.shopanthropic.com and #buyethical.
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Stay tuned for more products, events and campaign information from us!
Consider the following questions:
- Do you, as a consumer, feel any responsibility for the purposes to which the companies you patronize put their profits?
- Do you care about a company’s values, beyond the effect those values have on how the company conducts business?
- What about its CEO’s values, or the values of its biggest shareholder?
A recent article in Canadian Business asks you the following question: Do those factors enter into your purchasing decisions? Should they? Are you a value-based consumer? Could you be?
There is the ideal world – where consumers ideally take an interest in causes that are endorsed by local and national companies. However, there are considerable hurdles to achieving this:
- Financial hurdles: Often time’s companies that endorse green, charitable and fair trade initiatives often raise prices to ensure they still have a margin. Alternatively, often times a company’s profit margin is so small that the 1% of margins that is donated is miniscule. On the other hand, is the symbolic act of supporting such companies significant enough?
- Differences in values: What if a company adopts a social cause you don’t support? What if the method they give back through isn’t something you would endorse?
- Does it go against our competitive economic principles: By adding biases into the purchasing decision – does this go against the competitive principles that eliminated the racist biases and prejudice that has been eliminated through the growth of our current market environment?
There is much to debate when it comes to value based purchasing and how effective it will be in the mainstream market. Companies need to be careful in their sourcing and production in order to find effective margins and make substantial contributions to the causes they endorse. Consumers need to weigh their values vs. the kind of consumer lifestyle they choose to lead. The market needs to adjust itself to a new more sustainable and fair trade industry.
What are your thoughts on value based consumerism? Stay tuned as we address this issue through our upcoming events!
We are excited to announce our new Global Webinar Series on the sustainable and ethical retail space internationally. We are launching a webinar series that will be hosted once a month. Over the course of the next few months, we will be engaging speakers from sustainable and ethical product companies and organizations around the world, to bring new perspectives and ideas for us to further the movement of sustainable/ethical products in the marketplace in Canada. Through a mix of talks, Q&A sessions and dynamic interactive experiences, we hope to shed light on ways to accelerate the ethical, fair trade and sustainable product movement in Canada.
Stay tuned for information on our exciting speaker line up, dates and themes!
As companies like Cadbury, Starbucks, The Gap and Zappos make conscious efforts to become more sustainable, fair trade and ethical, we must acknowledge the steps that are being taken to revolutionize the main stream consumer’s mindset. There companies are using their brand power to encourage a positive change in the world and in their industries, whether it is by providing an ethical product, instituting sustainable and fair practices in their internal process, or by promoting a socially-conscious message. While we commend them for the work they have done thus far, an ethical consumer is one that realizes the value in the small-to-midsized business – the grassroots start-ups that are the basis of this movement.
With multinational corporations taking steps to further this movement, one would question why we need the little guy. First of all, it is important to realize the history behind social enterprise. Social enterprise wasn’t the brain child of any one large corporation but the product of many individuals who sought solutions to the social problems in their communities. It was the grassroots movement that has begun to gain momentum around the world that is connecting communities, ideas and individuals who want to make the world a better place. It is these organizations that have encourage the large corporations to think green, clean and ethical. It is these organizations that are recognizing the problems and being innovative in finding their solutions.
Secondly, the goal of ethical consumerism to make ethical buying a part of the mainstream consumer culture. This requires this (currently) niche market to mimic the mainstream consumer industry, not stand isolated from it. It is obvious that small-to-midsized businesses hold a significant position in our market, since they represent near 99.7% of all employer firms in the United States. Therefore, if we want the ethical movement to become main stream, we should be supporting those SMBs that are promoting this movement. Just like the mainstream business environment, they are driving forward the space and impacting individual communities.
The social enterprise movement is not an easy route – it requires the changing of mindsets and a consumer culture shift. This shift won’t be sudden or drastic; instead it will be slow and community-based. It is the small-to-midsized social enterprises that will drive this movement forward and turn individual communities into ethical consumers. So while the big businesses are making amazing improvements to their practices in products in order to be sustainable and ethical, small to mid-sized social ventures across the country are creating a movement to change lives.
We’re excited to announce the newest member on our team – say hello to Dennis Wiedmann!
Dennis comes to us from Germany for the summer. He’s excited to get to know more about the Social Enterprise space in Canada before he returns to pursue his Economics degree in Germany.
Dennis will be working on some key projects with us, including a market survey and study we will be conducting over the coming weeks. If you are in the ethical/fair trade product space in Toronto, you may hear from him soon!
Welcome Dennis and hope you learn lots!
The International Trade Center’s (ITC) Ethical Fashion Program supports the development of marginalized communities of women in Kenya and Uganda. It is a great concept of an organization focusing on enabling disadvantaged African communities and their groups of informal manufacturers to become part of the global supply chain; in essence, allowing them to increase their export capacities, while creating viable domestic/regional markets. It is organizations like these that assist us in connecting with artisans and furthering this movement of lifting communities out of poverty through their trades.
To learn more, click here.