Pretty soon we’ll start calling “social entrepreneurs” simply “entrepreneurs.” The shift from meeting a niche need to building a business that solves social problems is happening.
Businesses coax new behaviors more by creating small degrees of affection with customers by doing “good” works, but there is something deeper that’s driving the new, charitable bent in business.
What are the causes of the shift toward more social businesses? I believe there are three:
1) The change in mindset that open source software and the user-generated content brought about. Technology-enabled giving surpassed traditional nonprofit models and created a better way to facilitate problem solving across communities. (Here are a few.)
2) The financial crisis led many communities and entrepreneurs to envision a new economy and society based on real wealth and experiences. This caused many companies to pivot, and made space for many new market entrants that supported different types of economic actions like sharing and barter (e.g., Zaarly).
3) Customers have redefined their relationships with local businesses, forgoing online transactions, in many cases, for in-real-life engagement. Shopping local is more than a matter of convenience; it is also about self definition, values, and connections.
Note: Even the startup I work with, 4MeNU (“for me & you”), has a giving arm where 1:1 charitable giving acts to inspire members to give more and share more.
Photo is from the Catbird Griddle at the Angelica, NY farmer’s market.