To quote the venerable Richard Branson, it’s all about People, Planet, Profit. Here’s an excerpt from his blog about adding social awareness to your everyday business habits and how easy it can be:
New models for business as a force for good
- By Richard Branson
- Jun 10, 2013
The world has shifted dramatically over the last several years and you can now feel the energy and hear the buzz everywhere you turn about business becoming a force for good. With this in mind, we are really pleased to be launching the B Team with a great group of leaders later this week.
We’ve been working with Virgin Unite and partners over the last several years to make this happen, so it is incredibly exciting to see it get lift-off. Hopefully this collective group of leaders will help speed up the pace towards a better way of doing business that puts people and planet alongside profit. This new direction for business is a tremendous chance for entrepreneurs all over the world to build successful businesses and to make a significant difference at the same time. If you put charity on one side and for-profit businesses on the other, we see the beautiful hybrid models in the middle as the greatest opportunity of our lifetime.
As momentum gathers pace, so does jargon and confusion about what is a “good business”. There are constantly new names popping up from impact investing, to conscious capitalism, to shared value, to a whole host of others. The danger is that “doing good” becomes linked to a specific label, rather than ensuring every single business has a positive impact on people and planet. We’ve tried to step back with our businesses and simplify it down to a few core definitions to help them get their heads around the opportunities:
Purpose Driven Businesses – businesses that make a difference and also make a profit. MPESA is a great example of this as they are a company that started to bring financial services to the poor. They’ve now reinvented the finance industry in places like Kenya where 31% of the GDP is carried over their network by over 17 million customers. Another great example is Airbnb, helping to shake up the hospitality sector and make better use of our community assets. Over four million customers later, they are proving to be a formidable force.
Social Enterprises – businesses that put all their profit back into scaling the response to the issue. Muhammad Yunus really is the grandfather of this model with Grameen Bank and over $13.6 billion in loans so far. The Big Issue is another great example of this type of business.
Value Based Businesses – profit making businesses that have the right people and planet values alongside profit at their core. It encompasses building the right values into any business we start, as did Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s. It also includes transforming existing businesses. Many businesses who have embarked on this process, such as Marks & Spencer, have shown that it is also good for your bottom line. M&S has already realised well over £220m in savings since they kicked off their program to become the world’s most sustainable major retailer.
Catalytic Organisations – organisations set up to break down barriers and get capital flowing into new hybrid models. They include some of the pioneers in this area like Acumen and Root Capital. The Carbon War Room is making excellent progress in several industries such as shipping. The B Team will also hopefully make a big difference.
Looking forward to being part of the “hybrid revolution” in the years to come (scratch that name – just added another one to the mix!)
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group