For-Profit, For Social Justice
I think highly of the investors who strive for inclusion – but why so many of them support only organizations who rely on donations? Don't people with disabilities deserve to be treated as a first rate target audience? It just drives me crazy. Companies that can produce high-quality and affordable products to the masses of people with disabilities are the cutting edge of inclusion. I bealive they are the ones to bring a real change.
Taking the first steps of a young company is one of the hardest things I've ever done. It requires a lot of time to raise funds, and during that time we should also need to worry about making a living. The infinite loop.
In the ongoing search for foundation, organizations, programs and individuals who will invest in businesses who promote inclusion for people with disabilities, I repeatedly encounter the giant wall of "we support only non-profit".
Dear game changers: you and I are waving the flag of inclusion and integration of people with disabilities into the labor market, the possibility of obtaining education, moving freely in public spaces, the possibility that any human being can fulfill himself – this is precisely where I fail to understand why you insist on relying on donations.
As the non-profit organization's work can be thorough, good, comprehensive and committed, overwhelmingly it does not address the masses, but to individuals or small groups. Non-profits and NGO's are not obligated to produce solutions on an ongoing basis, but from time to time, relying not on profits but on external funds.
A person with a disability should be capable of entering a store or a supermarket and purchase the product that suits him/her well. Today the situation is that people with disabilities are actually struggling very hard to get the solutions they need. How much promotional ability does one organization have? Would non-profit bodies adopt serious measures of locating relevant target audiences to sell their products around the world? Of course not! It is a pure business step reserved for the world of for-profit. It's time that the current social change that happens around the world find expression also in consumption habits.
Social Business is a new term in Israel. The social businesses are trying to maintain in practice the sentence: DO GOOD WHILE DOING WELL, which means the profits and the impact are equally important. Yet when applying to investors, if ones business aims to do good - it is perceived as a donation. On the other hand, from the moment a company states it wants to be sustainable, it is perceived as greedy. What about the openness of opinion? Why can't we move forward with the outdated assumption that companies and corporations who have high earning potential can be good and fair, and bring to market products that will not break down after one year of use? Why don't we try to produce more of those? Why not support such companies?
What about a vision? A society that grows with mutual responsibility can be reflected in a company that operates when all its components support each other. This idea that I was exposed to a few years ago, talks about a system that preserves its energy within, and is good for anyone who goes through it: it is good for the environment, good for its employees, good for business, and it is cost-effective and efficient. It can be applied to any product, let alone to a product that meets a real need and reaches a large target population at the base of the pyramid. A great example is Cradle-to-Cradle methodology, as prescribes below: "Being good is good for business: The Business Case for Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Products. Business: Rethinking production and design processes is evidenced through higher sales performance, positive growth and increased profit margins, alongside significant cost savings related to water and energy efficiency improvements."
In conclusion, it is true that solutions provided by non-profits to people with serious challenges, for hundreds and even thousands of people - is a blessing, but the ones who provide support should consider investing in for-profit early stage companies as well. People with disabilities shouldn't rely on uncommon solutions alone. Those who understand so well the desire for inclusion can consider that the companies that will bring to the market high quality products with a sane price - are those who carry the message of revolutionary impact, social justice and inclusion.