GOOD

Why Micro Social Enterprises Matter

Our customers trade directly with small and micro-enterprises that support communities with limited access to basic human needs, including Tibetan refugees in India, rural artisans in Peru and disadvantaged Cambodian communities. By removing costly supply chains and middlemen, maximizing transparency and enabling direct communication, we can return the share of profits back to the people who need it most.

I am Co-founder and Director of The Shop for Change, a startup social enterprise creating “A marketplace for good”. Our customers trade directly with small and micro-enterprises that support communities with limited access to basic human needs, including Tibetan refugees in India, rural artisans in Peru and disadvantaged Cambodian communities. By removing costly supply chains and middlemen, maximizing transparency and enabling direct communication, we can return the share of profits back to the people who need it most.


With the holidays approaching, it's important to realize that small and micro-enterprises bring huge benefits to society, both locally and abroad, and here are the reasons why.

For stronger communities

Small and micro-enterprises connect with the people of their community. Making positive decisions for their customers and community benefits them in return. Comparatively, larger organizations such as Walmart are typically beholden to distant shareholders or corporate strategic affairs, therefore distancing themselves from a relationship with the people in the communities they serve.

For increased transparency

With a death toll of 1,129, the crude awakening of the recent Rana Plaza Disaster in April 2013 has catapulted the issue of transparency in supply chains. With visibility, action is being taken and independent inspections have found that "one in six clothing factories used by Walmart in Bangladesh failed to meet basic standards of structural, fire or electrical safety." Due to their size and nature of trade, small and micro-enterprise are inherently more transparent about their supply chains. Social enterprise Nisolo shoes, demonstrates this ability by featuring shoemaker profiles, and ‘Enlightened’ Everlan cranks it up a notch with “radical transparency."

For fairer wages and spread of wealth

The pay gap disparity between the CEOs of companies and the average worker are substantial. The larger the corporation, the greater the disparity. In 2012, the CEOs of S&P 500 Index companies earned an average of 354 times the average wage of rank-and-file US workers. Comparatively the average pay for a managing director of a small business is almost half that of a large company. In developing countries such as India, the gap seems to be steadily increasing resulting in small scale agricultural farmers forced to fold and take up work with larger agricultural companies, leading to even lower wages and further detrimental effects for communities.

Rith, Kong, Ms. Sross, Mrs.Thearny, Chantha and his daughter, Rosana of Craftworks Cambodia, a fair trade social enterprise in Phnom Phen, which upcycles materials including brass bombshells, and cement bags.

For business agility and innovation

As a consultant working with top tier enterprise and government, I am fortunate to work amongst amazing people: thought leaders and gurus in their fields. Nonetheless with the greatest skills and intentions, the size of large organizations leads to bureaucratic challenges and inefficiencies. Governments and corporates battle with middle management power struggles, hoping to enable agility and innovation. We should be investing big budgets in corporate innovation programs and universities should keep creating programs on for better business innovation.

For new business models

With due reason, a shakeup has started in the wake of the global financial crisis. Pillars of our financial system are being challenged by progressive alternatives such as Muhammad Yunus’ “social business.” Social business redirects the fundamental motivation of trade away from economic growth and shareholder dividends, toward a balance of financial and social sustainability. “Social enterprise” is the new black, with entrepreneurs investing their efforts in building enterprises for a positive social impact in society. Meanwhile the case for charity becomes weakened by the struggle to deliver sustainability and accountability.

I believe in a convergence of these business models to provide economic empowerment to small and micro-enterprise. While charity is problematic, and public companies are legally obliged to prioritize wealth, small and micro-enterprise could pave the way to financial and social equanimity. In Australia, we are seeing networks of social enterprises empowering indigenous people through community art centers and other initiatives.

The small and micro-enterprise global solution

High levels of consumption in developed nations is a disturbing contrast to the ongoing plight of the impoverished developing world. Nonetheless, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and kicking in small and micro-enterprise, from the cities of wealthy nations, to those of the rural poor. Through mindfully directing our consumption behavior, our efforts for creating a more equanimous world may be in reach. Whether supporting a local florist, or an artisan across the world.

#GivingTuesday is a chance to think about where we bank our bucks. Do we invest in the coffers of complex bureaucracy and non-transparent supply chains? Or in the potential to create a positive social impact through the unique, intimate, innovative and transparent small and micro-enterprise sector?

Will you join me in supporting small and micro-enterprises? For a day, I challenge you to only trade with small and micro-enterprises. It might just make for a better world.

Articles
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet