by: Abraham Sidibe
This past week, the Dingman Center partnered with the Center for Social Value Creation to host a movie screening of “Not Business As Usual”, an informative documentary created by Institute B in 2014 about the transformation of the business world from capitalist to conscious capitalist. The movie told the stories of several social entrepreneurs who are bringing humanity back into business. Institute B is an entrepreneur accelerator for businesses that put profit and societal value on equal footing as profits. They develop entrepreneurs by providing education, consulting and funding. They are also the same people who helped shape the business cultures of Starbucks, IKEA, and lululemon.
The film is an incredible resource for those who want to fix a social problem through business because it documents the history of social business and shares the stories of social entrepreneurs who are working to be a force for positive social and environmental change. One interesting thing I learned from this movie is that sustainability metrics continuously evolve. There is always a way to be more sustainable and have lower impact products, starting with the supply chain. Although there is also no way to have entirely zero impact when producing products, there are ways to minimize those negative effects.
One of the individuals highlighted in the movie said: “Once consumers know who is doing business right, the money will shift.” I find this to be true because clearly there has been a shift in consumer demand for healthy, organic and environmentally friendly products. Embedding social impact into businesses from the beginning of the organization is becoming the new form of business.
Another example of how social business is changing traditional business is through a new legal structure called B-Corps, which are For-Benefit Corporations. A benefit corporation exists to create value for all stake-holders, not just share-holders.” Maryland was the first state back in 2010 to pass the bill creating a B-Corporation legal form. Corporations can legally pursue social goals without fear of share-holders suing the corporation.
As an aspiring entrepreneur I am always looking for how to effect change in another person’s life. As I look to start my own business, I’m going to learn about what is required to be a B-Lab certified social business, research how current B-Corps got started and how they operate now, and will always be thinking about ways to “mix purpose and revenue.”
Abraham Sidibe is a Senior Economics major at the University of Maryland, and has finished a minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from the Robert H. Smith School of Business. This past summer, he participated in a 2 month immersion internship program in the Dominican Republic through the Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps. He provided grassroots business consulting for small businesses and entrepreneurs in rural communities. He will be joining the Peace Corps in Senegal in 2017.