Captain Planet
Age is never a barrier in the fight for social justice. At least, Captain Planet teaches this lesson. During the animated series’ six-year span, “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” sought to educate and empower young people to take an interest in environmental issues.

Origin

Media mongrel, Ted Turner, conceived of the idea for Captain Planet. To bring this superhero to life, Turner sought the help of longtime environmentalist and film producer, Barbara Pyle. Inspired by people she met during past projects, Pyle created the Planeteers: Kwame, Gi, Linka, Wheeler and Ma-Ti. Together, the Planeteers and Captain Planet work to combat ecological and global problems.

“Captain Planet and the Planeteers” premiered worldwide in 1990 and the children’s animated series gained popular success as well as critical acclaim. Captain Planet was one of the first television shows to openly advocate for the environment. Apart from addressing environmental issues, the television show also encouraged young people to have an interest in the issues plaguing their own communities. Here are two examples of how Captain Planet challenged its audience to be advocates for nonenvironmental social justice issues.

Issue #1: HIV/AIDS Epidemic

In the early 1990s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic devastated the United States. The number of reported cases was over 100,000 and it affected everyone in sight. Ryan White was one of the first children diagnosed with the deadly virus. Doctors diagnosed White with AIDS when he was 13 years old after he received a blood transfusion. After this diagnosis, White’s school banned him and his community ostracized him, similar to other individuals. People were afraid of White due to the misperception that AIDS could transmit by air or touch.

During the middle of the epidemic, Captain Planet addressed the issue of HIV/AIDS in its episode, “A Formula for Hate.” The episode challenged the audience to put aside ignorance and fear to reduce discrimination against people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The plot of the episode parallels White’s situation after his diagnosis with AIDS. In the episode, the townspeople learn about a student’s (Todd Andrews) HIV-positive diagnosis. The townspeople turn against Andrews and his family, going as far as burning his mother’s vegetable stand. Captain Planet and the Planeteers intervene by educating the townspeople on the virus, dispelling the misperception that HIV cannot be transmitted by casual contact. As a result, Andrews and his family were once again accepted by the townspeople and no longer discriminated against.

Issue #2: Gang Violence

Gangs and firearm violence were on the rise in the United States during the 1990s, especially among young people. In 1990, the number of fatal and nonfatal violent crimes with a firearm was at an all-time high at 18,253. In 1993, 45 cities reported that over 100,000 young people were involved in a gang. The rise in violent crimes created toxic environments among youth and places considered safe zones for young people, like parks and schools, became battlegrounds.

In 1994, Captain Planet addressed the issue of gang and gun violence in the episode, “Teers in the ‘Hood.” The episode’s plot revolved around a shootout between two rival gangs and The Planeteers became caught in the middle of the conflict. Captain Planet and the Planeteers defused the situation by talking about the peace messages of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Mahatma Gandhi. The episode also debunked the myth that gangs offer positive communities for its members. After two of the Planeteers infiltrated one of the rival gangs, the gang quickly pressured them to use violence in order to gain acceptance. In short, the episode’s message was on the power of positive community and peace.

Today, Captain Planet continues providing fun, innovative opportunities to support environmental issues worldwide. To get involved or learn more, visit www.captain planet foundation.org.

– Paola Nunez
Photo: Flickr

Schools for Sierra LeoneSierra Leone is a country with an abundant amount of natural resources located on the West Coast of Africa. From 1991 to 2002, Sierra Leone endured a civil war that had detrimental effects on the country’s physical, social and economic infrastructure. After the civil war, Sierra Leone made significant progress in almost all sectors. Unfortunately, its education sector is still facing challenges. Organizations such as SOS Children’s’ Villages International and Schools for Salone, with the support of the Government of Sierra Leone, have stepped in to help better Sierra Leone’s education sector.

School Attendance Rates

Since the civil war, Sierra Leone has made great efforts in rebuilding destroyed, abandoned and damaged schools, but most schools are still in need of repairs. Furthermore, many schools lack sufficient learning materials or qualified teachers. However, Sierra Leone has seen an impressive percentage increase in primary school enrollment. Nearly 100 percent of both boys and girls attend primary school. There is only a 2 percent difference between boys and girls completing their education, boys at 69 percent, and girls at 67.

Although primary school attendance rates have continued to increase, school dropout rates for both boys and girls is an alarming concern. When it comes to secondary school, the numbers drop to 57 percent of both boys and girls attend lower secondary school. Unfortunately, that number drops even further to 29 percent for boys and 26 percent for girls when it comes to enrolling in upper secondary school. There is a 53 percent drop out rate of both boys and girls. There is even a bigger disparity in attendance rates and completion rates for both girls and boys in rural areas of Sierra Leone because of the lack of access to schooling.

Since 60 percent of people in Sierra Leone live under the poverty line, it makes it difficult for many households to afford school for their children. It was reported, in the 2015 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis, that 35 percent of households don’t enroll their children in school due to lack of funds and about 28 percent don’t have a functioning school in their village or community. Building more schools for Sierra Leone, especially in rural areas, is important and vital for the future of the people and the country.

Organizations Making a Change

SOS Children’s Villages provides various programs to make sure that children have access to quality education and training to prepare them to become independent adults. Some of the things the programs have created and supported are improving child-centered quality education, creating inclusive learning environments, working with communities and authorities to build schools as well as providing speech therapy and after-school tutoring, mentoring and coaching for the youth. SOS Children’s Villages also runs the schools that it has established and built in order to ensure quality education. About 3,000 students have benefited from the organizations’ schools and programs in Sierra Leone.

In 2005, Schools for Salone began its mission to provide quality education to the people of Sierra Leone. Since 2005, the organization has built 22 primary school buildings and three school libraries. These facilities serve more than 6,500 children across Sierra Leone. Schools for Salone has also provided training opportunities for more than 150 teachers. Its main missions are to build schools, keep boys and girls in school and provide scholarship opportunities for the children of Sierra Leone.

The civil war in Sierra Leone had many repercussions and has affected all of the country’s sectors; however, it is most apparent in its education sector. Organizations such as SOS Children’s Villages and Schools for Salone have decided to help improve the education sector of the country. More schools for Sierra Leone could mean a brighter future for the country’s education sector, but more importantly, a brighter future for the children of Sierra Leone.

Jocelyn Aguilar
Photo: Flickr

Similarities and Differences Between a Charity, Non-profit Organization and Philanthropy
To get a better understanding of the different ways in which one can contribute to the community, it’s important to know the similarities and differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy.

A large part of progress in the world is due to humanitarian aid and contribution, whether it be people donating money or food to the less fortunate or people coming together to work for and promote human welfare. Charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy are important to communities because each is effective in bringing positive change and offers valuable opportunities and programs to people.

Giving USA reports that charitable donations surged to an estimated $410.02 billion in 2017, a major increase of 5.2 percent from $389.64 in 2016. This is the first time that Giving exceeded $400 billion in one year.

While charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy can be used interchangeably and are similar in that each brings positive change, they differ significantly in the way they operate.

Charities

A charity is an immediate but emotional monetary donation or short-term contribution usually intended for crisis and relief efforts and supported completely by the public.

People usually donate to a charity that they have a personal connection to or are emotionally affected by. For instance, if a person is deeply concerned about animals, he or she may give a monetary donation at a local animal shelter.

According to Score, one of the ways to understand the differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy is to remember that a nonprofit’s purpose is educational or religious and if its funds promote a cause that affects the general public and uses public solicitation to operate, it is most likely a charity.

Examples of donations to a charity include giving money or food to a homeless shelter, donating to an animal shelter, giving money to The Salvation Army bell-ringers outside one’s local supermarket during the holiday season, etc.

Nonprofit Organizations

A nonprofit organization and a charity are similar in that they both operate on a not-for-profit basis but differ based on whether it is tax-deductible and even in the way it operates. A charitable donation can count as tax-deductible while nonprofit organizations have to meet certain requirements and file with the IRS as a charitable organization.

A popular nationwide nonprofit organization is the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross website states that a donor’s donation goes toward strengthening the Red Cross response to nearly 64,000 disasters a year, providing a safe place, food and other necessities to affected individuals and their families. In 2016, the Red Cross provided 385,000 emergency assistance services, gave millions CPR and AED training and supplied 7 million blood products to patients in need.

Philanthropy

One way to remember the differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy is by understanding that charities and nonprofits give/contribute while philanthropy involves action. For instance, while a charity can be a quick one-time donation to a school, philanthropy would work toward providing academic scholarships to students or funding to build a better school. Charities aim to lessen the suffering caused by social problems while philanthropists work toward ending social problems.

According to Medium, philanthropy is a long-term strategic investment and intervention dedicated to building long-lasting and successful change in individuals and communities.

While many think a philanthropist is someone who donates large amounts of money to an organization, a philanthropist can be somebody devoted to ending a certain social problem and promoting human welfare.

Impact and Importance

Although there are several differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy, the important part is that all of these are effective in building a more efficient and progressive world. It doesn’t matter if someone donates to charities or nonprofit organizations or decides to become a philanthropist, what matters is their contribution serves to help those in need and is also another step toward progress.

– Kristen Uedoi
Photo: Flickr

 

Private Sector Fighting Poverty
When it comes to global poverty, the solution should involve collective effort from different organizations and individuals as well. These involve various participants from volunteers and nonprofit organizations to the government or even celebrities who are contributing their time to raise public awareness and much more. In fact, even private sector fighting poverty via Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is crucial too.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Many large businesses and corporations are doing their bit for the world. Examples of private sector fighting poverty are not only motivational but also help to eliminate the sources of and causes leading to global poverty. Each year, different companies take action to do what is necessary for their community. The concept was introduced in the 1800s when the U.S. Supreme Court stated that corporations are people and they should be good citizens.

There are several ways for companies to practice Corporate Social Responsibility. Environmental efforts, volunteering, ethical labor practices and philanthropy are some of the examples. The private sector fighting poverty is reflected in many of the world’s biggest and most profitable businesses. CSR has become so critical that, for example, in the U.S., more than 60 percent of citizens hope that business will drive social and environmental changes in the absence of government actions and regulations.

Private Sector Fighting Poverty

Print giant, Xerox, has been focusing on different social areas with many projects, but it’s most recognizable one is the Xerox Community Involvement Program. Through this program, Xerox encourages its employees to work on social projects of their choice. They can also get a paid leave of absence to focus on their respective projects.

Another company that has been running several projects for the social good is the shoe company, Toms. Their well-known project One for One Campaign came into existence after the company’s founder, Blake Mycoskie, witnessed the difficult life of Argentinian children who grow up without wearing shoes. The idea of the project is really simple: Toms provides shoes to the children in need in 60 countries as it donates one pair of shoes for every pair of shoes sold.

Microsoft is another company taking responsibility for social issues. According to Forbes, the company holds the second highest rating on CSR score for all their educational and environmental contributions worldwide. It’s also known that the company’s co-founder and former CEO, Bill Gates, started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to combat infectious diseases, promote equality, empower the poor and much more.

How CSR Benefits the Private Sector

Numerous big giants such as the BMW Group, Google, Samsung, LEGO Group, The Walt Disney Company, etc., have been taking action. Many of these companies benefit from their CSR as well. For example, Google Green is a social effort geared toward using resources effectively and increasing the use of renewable power. Ever since this cultural change occurred, Google’s data centers’ power requirements have reduced by about 50 percent. This means that what is saved by a social project can now be used for other operations.

Fighting global poverty and its causes needs to be a collective effort and the involvement of the private sector is highly crucial.

– Orçun Doğmazer

Photo: Flickr


India is the world’s second-most populated country with 1.3 billion people, and is ahead of the United States — the third highest population — by nearly 1 billion people. When comparing the populations of the two countries, it is easy to understand how the media misrepresents India as an overcrowded, poverty-stricken country.

While true that India has a high population and a large percentage of the nation lives off of incomes considered below the world poverty line, there is also financial and social growth leading to improved conditions in India.

It is also easy to understand how the media misrepresents India as an environmentally unfriendly country: many cities in India suffer from problems of air and water pollution. However, India is instituting new policies to combat those issues and to improve the quality of the environment.

Economic Progress

Even though 68 percent of India’s population lives in poverty according to World Bank standards, the poverty level has declined since 2004. Further, India has one of the world’s fastest growing economies — growth of India’s GDP is expected to be 7 percent in fiscal year 2018, and increase to 7.4 percent by fiscal year 2020.

India also has a growing international business market that will increase industries and jobs. For example, solar panel manufacturing is becoming an important market and there are multi-billion-dollar investments being made to further expand and produce panels for both domestic and exportation purposes.

Social Progress

In recent years, India has improved in its quality of life measurements in addition to moving up from the low social progress category. This shift means that measured standards indicate that India is meeting an increasing number of basic human needs for all its people. One large factor in that advancement was progress made in providing shelter; 67 percent of the population now has access to affordable housing.

India also increased general access to information and communication. The numbers of both internet and phone users increased since 2014, allowing people to connect and obtain information more easily.

Environmental Progress

The smog in India’s capital, New Delhi, is infamously thick; however, solutions to the pollution exist that are less readily portrayed by the media. One such solution is an air purifier that can be used indoors to help clean the air, and bigger policy initiatives to help tackle the root of the pollution problems are also being pushed by the government.

India is trying to eliminate its manufacturing of gas-running engines by 2030 and turn toward electric vehicles to remove one source of pollution. Along with other policy measures, and investments in cleaning polluted air and water, India aims to alleviate its problems of environmental degradation.

How the Media Misrepresents India

How the media misrepresents India is through its focus on big picture negatives rather than on the positive growth of the country. All the separate instances of progress add together and help to create a more sustainable future for the people of India.

With monetary and policy support, further strides can be made in the media’s notation and highlighting of the resilience of India.

– Hayley Herzog

Photo: Flickr

social justice and economic justice
There is an enduring and powerful relationship between social justice and economic justice. Social justice has many definitions. 
The most common definition, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is: “Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges within a society.”

The definitions that are most applicable to alleviating poverty, however, are:

  • The idea that every person should have equal rights to basic liberties and needs, and inequalities should be arranged to the greatest benefit for those considered lowest in society.
  • From the Huffington Post: “…promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity. It exists when all people share a common humanity and therefore have a right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights and a fair allocation of community resources.”

However, the current functioning of global society violates each of these definitions almost completely, and therefore expresses the lack of and need for social justice in all areas of the world, especially developing nations.

The United Nations Development Programme reports shocking statistics from poverty elimination research, detailing that as of 2000, there were 323 million people living on less than $1 a day, 185 million people who were undernourished and 273 million people without access to improved water sources in sub-Saharan Africa, the most impoverished region overall.

These harrowing numbers from sub-Saharan Africa were accompanied by information stating that 44 million primary age children were not in school, 23 million primary age girls were not in school, five million children under five years old were dying each year and 299 million people were without access to adequate sanitation. These statistics demonstrate that simple economic failure and injustice is not an isolated issue, but rather closely parallelled by social failure and injustice as well.

In contrast, the statistics from central and eastern Europe are staggeringly different. Only 21 million people were living on less than on $1 a day, only 33 million people were undernourished, only 29 million people were without access to improved water sources, only three million primary age children were not in school, only one million primary age girls were not in school, less than a million children under five years old were dying each year and an insignificant amount of people were without access to adequate sanitation as of 2000, so low that it was not even reported numerically.

As can be clearly seen, there is a direct correlation between social justice and economic justice, and a very large gap between developed nations and impoverished countries. The more economically impoverished a nation remains, the more social injustice thrives and prevails. The greater the poverty, the fewer people are given fair and equal access to basic needs and rights.  

To start fighting such global, national and statistical chasms and deprivations, the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals have started targeting social justice, specifically to help achieve the goals of:

  • Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
  • Promoting gender equality and empowering women
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability

The hope is that the new information and educational awareness of the relationship between social justice and economic justice will kickstart the alleviation of poverty by focusing on the social injustices in each region and developing country to foster a new approach for decreasing poverty overall.

– Lydia Lamm

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

How to Fight for Social JusticeAn important thing to keep in mind when learning how to fight for social justice is what social justice really is. Fighting for social justice is a way of solving social inequalities. Social inequalities can come in different forms, but they revolve around two major categories: inter-social treatment and unequal government regulation.

Inter-social treatment describes the treatment of groups of people on a local and regional scale and deals with issues such as racism, sexism, ageism and heterosexism. These social inequalities are commonly based on personal beliefs.

Unequal government regulation describes the laws and regulations in place which discriminate against minorities. These often relate to poverty, the death penalty, civil rights and access to healthcare and education.

Health, education, social mobility, crime and wellbeing are directly correlated to social inequalities due to inter-social treatment and unequal government regulation. It is important to remember that these two categories of inequality are often linked to each other. These social inequalities can be experienced directly and indirectly, and it is important to keep that in mind when learning how to fight for social justice.

Direct social inequality is the deliberate mistreatment of minorities or groups of people. This can come in the form of actions that take away resources and opportunities from select groups of people based on prejudices and personal beliefs. This type of inequality can include, but is not limited to, physical and/or verbal assault on a person or group of people and laws created based on established prejudices.

Indirect social inequality is enforcing unfair treatment of people unintentionally. Many people are guilty of this form of oppression because they are simply unaware of it. Consumerism is a large factor in this form of social inequality, because often the products being purchased are made by sweatshop workers, produce waste and chemicals which pollute the areas where impoverished people live and even support political candidates who promote social inequalities.

Taking action on a social issue is a major step in learning how to fight for social justice. Activism, by definition, is using consistent campaigning to bring social and/or political change. With the technology available today, even the busiest of people can become activists for social issues through a variety of means:

  • Using social media
    One of the easiest ways to fight for social justice is to use a social media platform. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all great starting points to grow an active voice for social justice. In today’s age of technology, something as small as a hashtag can be the start of a worldwide social justice movement, such as the “Black Lives Matter”, “Love Wins” and the “Me Too” movements.
  • Donating
    Organizations are always in need of donations to their cause, because to fight for social justice, organizations need funding. For some, it is not always practical to donate money, so an alternative is to consider donating your time. Holding fundraisers, hosting rallies and participating in sponsored walks are all great ways to fight for social justice through activism.
  • Contacting Congress
    A critical part of fighting for social justice is starting from the ground up in local government. Big movements take small steps towards greatness, and one way to help move forward for social justice is making a change in government. Contacting Congress about issues and concerns is a pivotal part of creating change. Voting in leadership who support important causes is another important step in fighting for social justice.
  • Joining local groups
    Connecting with local activist groups can help you stay up to date on events, fundraisers, news and information on social issues.

Whether we are fighting against global poverty, racism, sexism, ageism or the many other social issues that face us, the answer to “how to fight for social justice” is understanding what social justice is, finding a voice and using it through activism.

– Courtney Hambrecht

Photo: Flickr

Lessons from Anonymous: Using Social Media to Help End PovertyIn 2010, the Internet activist group known as Anonymous lent its technological expertise to Arabs who were protesting injustices in the countries they lived in. This aid let to an event known as the Arab Spring, in which the governments of several Arab nations were overthrown by their people. The ways that Anonymous utilized technology to help protesters are important lessons for activists trying to enact global change on both how not to use technology to enact global change and how to properly use social media to help people who live in poverty or under a repressive regime find their voice.

How should technology not be used by the modern activist?

Even though Arab people were aided by the help from Anonymous, Anonymous employed several methods which modern protesters should not use, because they rely on destroying the computational infrastructure used by a country and would risk generating bad publicity if they were used. One such example, known as black faxing, is a method in which Anonymous faxed black pieces of paper to various government agencies to cause the fax machines used by those agencies to run out of ink.

Anonymous also committed distributed denial of service attacks, in which members of Anonymous overloaded key web servers in a given country to prevent government officials from accessing network resources on the Internet. Anonymous carried out these disruptive activities so that members of the government would not be able to communicate, which made it much easier for the protesters to overthrow the government.

These methods should not be used by modern activists because they are more likely to be viewed as an act of cyberterrorism and not as a legitimate form of protest. Such methods would cause people to focus on the methods used by the protesters rather than the societal issues that the people using these methods were protesting.

What positive lessons can the modern activist or protester learn from Anonymous?

In addition to the use of technology for disruption, Anonymous also used technology to help the Arab protesters mobilize within their country and communicate with the outside world. The main tools used by Anonymous to connect the protesters with each other and with the outside world were social media platforms. Anonymous also helped protesters use proxy servers so that they could communicate with the outside world without the risk of being detected by their government. Anonymous used social media to help ensure that the voices of the protesters were heard by the world.

Anonymous used social media to help support the Arab Spring

Anonymous helped protesters in Egypt by reposting information that people in Egypt gave to them on Twitter, and by helping people in Egypt bypass firewalls set up by the Egyptian government. Anonymous also helped protesters in the Arab world by setting up IRC servers where protesters could virtually meet to organize and to plan their protests. Anonymous teamed up with Telecomix, another “hacktivist” group, to help people in Arab countries who were protesting their government connect to the Internet even after the government blocked Internet access.

People protesting against poverty, child soldiers, human trafficking or any other issue could learn from Anonymous and use social media to help people who are affected by such issues communicate with others or to help activists fighting against such injustices safely communicate with each other.

– Michael Israel

Photo: Flickr

social responsibility marketingConsumers in 2018 have no problem accessing information. In a time where finding a company’s track record is a mouse-click away, reputation is key. A scandal gone viral can be the only thing needed to affect an otherwise strong company.

In 2017, United Airlines experienced this firsthand. A video showing officials dragging a passenger off a flight lead to uproar across the world. Many wanted a complete boycott of the airline, a frequent result of company scandals.

Most companies are not handling a major PR crisis like United’s. But that does not mean that positive brand image is any less critical to success. Millennial consumers have steadily-increasing purchasing power in the global economy, providing a unique challenge. To appeal to millennial consumers, companies must recognize value differences from previous generations.

Prioritizing social responsibility marketing (SRM) is one of these differences. This strategy focuses on customers wanting to make a difference through their purchases. Social responsibility marketing takes many forms. Sustainable packaging, volunteer-focused ad campaigns and product donations are all possible SRM strategies.

A majority of millennial consumers look for social responsibility marketing when purchasing. This age demographic expects companies to be upfront with social responsibility, spending more on ethical, helpful products. But the shift toward social responsibility is more than an opportunity for a company. For the millions that struggle with food and water insecurity globally, SRM is good news.

Here are the top four ways that social responsibility marketing helps fight poverty.

  1. By Providing Food
    With consumers pushing for social responsibility, ground campaigns are a frequent response. The intention of these programs is to provide aid, such as food and water, directly to those in need. Notable companies have launched major campaigns that do exactly that.
    Kraft Heinz Company set a goal to provide one billion meals by the year 2021. By doing so, Kraft Heinz Company has shown a company priority for social responsibility. Given the impact on global poverty of so many donated meals, the situation is a true win-win.
  1. By Empowering Women
    A branding focus toward social responsibility marketing can provide unique benefits to women. Consumers have pushed companies toward sourcing their products in a socially-responsible way. With increased attention on sourcing, programs to hire women and offer products made by women in developing nations have emerged.
    Coca-Cola launched an initiative to hire five million women by 2020. In the age of social responsibility marketing, this is hardly out of the ordinary for a company to do.
  1. By Helping at the Corporate Level
    Besides helping those in need, SRM helps companies be successful. A company that is socially-responsible can use social responsibility to connect with consumers. By helping improve global conditions, a company creates positive brand associations. These positive brand associations are critical to customer loyalty. With people placing high importance on social responsibility, that loyalty is essential.
  1. By Preserving the Environment
    Changing consumer preferences push companies toward behaviors that help the environment. In practice of implementing an SRM strategy, making products has changed. Processes have become better for the environment and produce fewer pollutants.
    Beyond socially-conscious production materials, basic operations have become better for the environment too. A focus on minimizing waste and maximizing resources has emerged. Recycling and conservation have become standards, not perks. For the environment, this push is long overdue.

On the whole, social responsibility marketing has changed the way companies do business. Consumers continue to demand better practices from companies, and companies are listening.

– Robert Stephen

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Social Enterprise
Traditional businesses measure their success by profit and how much they can bring shareholders. Social enterprises have multiple bottoms lines: profit, people and planet. Profit is important in sustaining a business, but the idea of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is gaining in popularity. Consumers educate themselves on products which leads businesses into action. Focusing on multiple areas of business (triple bottom line) is the crucially important reason why social enterprise works.

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The Traditional Standard: Profit

Profit is an excellent measure of growth and is quantifiable. A business that has a surplus by the end of the year means bills were paid and employees provided for. It doesn’t hurt that investors or shareholders see a return on their money. If there is profit, that means the company is an asset to the economy; this then means more customers, more employees and more investors overall. This business detail remains a critical factor in why social enterprise works.
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The Growing Standard: People

People want to be happy, and as most of a person’s waking hours are spent at work, these two aspects of life are thereby deeply intertwined. It’s becoming common knowledge that a happier employee means a more productive workplace. An employee who feels empowered and enjoys what they do generally equates to higher productivity and profitability.

Success with people can lead to 65 percent in higher share prices and 100 percent more job applications for the company.
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The Growing Concern: Planet

Consumer understanding of the planet’s dwindling resources are slowly impacting their buying habits. There hasn’t been a huge move towards green living, but some like social enterprises make this a priority along with profit and people. A new awareness day, Overshoot Day, marks the calendar for when humanity has used up Earth’s resources for that year.

From 2000 to 2017, Overshoot Day crept up from late September to early August, almost by two months. Social enterprises have noticed this trend and are now making moves to change it through sustainable resources.
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A Moral Solution: Changing the Trajectory for an At-Risk Individual

Many businesses might choose a social entrepreneurial path because there is an issue the organization wants to address. At the heart of freedom businesses (a subgroup of social enterprises) is the goal to hire at-risk individuals. Some businesses like Purnaa, a manufacturing business in Nepal, were inspired to create opportunities for marginalized people and survivors of exploitation. Others like Papillion Enterprise, an Artisan shop in Haiti, wanted to prevent orphans through job creation.
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Using Resources to Continue the Process

A difficult move for many small social enterprises is growth, particularly in some countries outside of the U.S. There might not be property to mortgage against or the interest rate would kill the purpose. Some social enterprises — like Kairos Trader — use profits and fundraising to provide 0 percent loans to social enterprises. As business grows and money is repaid, the loan can then be cycled into another loan to help social enterprises start or step up.
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Economic Growth: The Ripple Effect

This list would not be complete without mentioning social enterprises’ impact on economic growth– freedom businesses’ commitment to marginalised people and the Earth is why much of its social enterprise works.

Communities that may have been jobless or ostracised now have opportunities. Those with jobs are able to educate their children and become consumers which grows consumerism on a generational scale building the economy with it.

According to Matt Peterson, founder of Kairos Traders, every sector is needed to make a change for people and planet, but business offers a unique solution. It can seem counterintuitive to have a triple bottom line, but success is proving why social enterprise works.

Profit is needed to be able to grow and provide jobs and materials, but a business that bases its impact on community and planet is a more holistic approach that will bear more fruitful results.

– Natasha Komen

Photo: Flickr