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The Age of Social Impact Entrepreneurship Is Upon Us  

With so many challenges upon us, the business world is stepping up to address societal needs through creative, sustainable, and profitable strategies. Several organizations are taking positive action by addressing specific issues in their mission and vision statements — from diversity, equity, and inclusion; to sustainability; to literacy and education; to healthcare for the elderly, disabled or terminally ill; and more.

Impact on Those in Need

These win-win enterprises, engaging in what’s often referred to as “triple-bottom-line” or “profit with a purpose,” serve business owners with a return on capital, but also serve the needs of society and the overall planet.

I call this “social impact entrepreneurship.” It takes business practices such as goal setting, results measurements, financial sustainability, and scaled systems and applies them to solve challenges in our world.

In my businesses, we began this approach early on in our chain of nursing retirement facilities, PeopleCare Heritage Centers, and landscape materials business, Pavestone Company. Our aim was to always do what we could to enhance the lives of our staff, clients, and community.

Social impact entrepreneurship is spreading worldwide and encompasses a wide range of fields and approaches. Utilizing an organization’s available skills and resources to create jobs, share resources, drive community impact, and change people’s lives for the better makes profit with a purpose so powerful.

Here are a few ways that company’s employ social impact entrepreneurship to directly impact those in need:

  1. Magnify the mission of a charitable organization.

    Corporations can make big differences in the community using the resources they have to bring focus to the mission of local nonprofits who may lack the manpower and funds to do get their word out or bring in necessary funds. Annually, the Dallas Cowboys raise millions of dollars for the Salvation Army through raffles and Red Kettle fundraisers, providing space for events, and other community events. Cowboys fans may remember the Thanksgiving Day game in 2018 when #21 Zeke Elliot scored a touchdown and celebrated by jumping into the Salvation Army Red Kettle at the end of the field. The Salvation Army received thousands of $21 donation checks. (The hope was that #88 would do the same thing in the future.)

  2. Provide free advertising for local nonprofits.

    With 26 million visitors every year, Dallas’s Northpark Center shopping mall fills its hallways with nonprofit advertisements. The free advertising helps community organizations get the word out about volunteer and charitable opportunities, as well as their available services in support of the community.

  3. Bolster local artists.

    In her 40-year career of designing interiors for luxury resorts, casinos, tourist attractions, and residences around the world, Trisha Wilson makes an effort to always employ local craftspeople and vendors for her projects as a way to support local economies. When local craftspeople needed additional expertise for a project, she brought in experts from Disney Imagineers to guide them. She and her team take the time to search out artists and craftspeople in Asia, Europe, and Africa to involve them in their projects. An idea for one of her projects came to her after seeing a carving at a local market in South Africa. She tracked down the artist and paid him enough to provide for his family for many years.

Each of these examples displays the heart of social impact entrepreneurship and demonstrates the life-changing impact it has on communities. Even if the main focus of a business isn’t about giving back through social entrepreneurship, companies can still find ways to make an impact by using the tools they already have. Doing so makes their hard work more fulfilling.

Author: Bob Schlegel and his wife and business partner, Myrna, came from humble roots in a small Ontario, Canada farming community. Together, they launched their first family business, PeopleCare Heritage Centers, that grew to include 15 facilities in both the U.S. and Canada. While Myrna operated the centers, Bob Schlegel and a partner also launched Pavestone Company, which became the nation’s leading supplier of concrete landscaping products. The Schlegels sold both businesses and today are involved in a myriad of new enterprises and philanthropic endeavors. Bob’s Wall Street Journal bestseller, Angels and Entrepreneurs: A Lifestyle Formula for Starting Your Own Business and Riding the Rollercoaster of Entrepreneurship (SAVIO Republic, Feb. 22, 2022), shares the lessons learned from navigating the life of an entrepreneur. Learn more at bobschlegelauthor.com.

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