Monday, January 20, 2014

What Excites Me About Mission-Driven Businesses

SocialTransactions gives back every time you shop online!
I've read articles about people in hospice care saying how, if one could do it all over again, they would have helped more people. Perhaps it is a desire to give back, or maybe that by serving we can reach a higher stage of enlightenment. Whatever the case, both are true, and both are right... And when I think about the businesses I'm in, I feel so grateful to have some kind of impact on people. For starters, WhenToManage has a separate non-profit called CommunityPlates (5013) that helps to alleviate food insecurity through a killer food delivery crowd-sourcing web app. And on a completely different angle, SocialTransactions (LLC) uses elegantly simple technology to help non-profits raise money through online shopping (at no cost to the shopper or non-profit). Both give back, but one isn't a non-profit. And that's what excites me... the for profit space!

To me, mission-driven or even BCorps, which have been growing year over year with investment dollars, is a sweet platform for real social change. True social-evolution takes resources, and that means money. However, investors (you can call them donors too) are now ranking their investments not just on monetary returns, but also impact. According to a report by the Monitor Group, impact investing (because I think it represents a culture of mission-driven innovative people, with capital) is expected to grow to $500 billion in assets over the next decade. Some hard numbers for you to consider, but there's more. While I was in San Francisco over the summer, I went to an impact investing seminar, where I learned impact investing is as much about the money as the global returns - lives saved, homes built, environment sustained, women educated, wars stopped, food developed (and much more). The panelists even went so far as to say those investments performed much better than traditional investment strategies. Cool...

Can you have your cake and eat it to? I think there is a case to be made here... What do you think about mission-driven businesses or impact investing?

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