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What do you think makes a social business?
10min

What do you think makes a social business?

Is your idea of what makes a social business consistent for different types of business and organisation? The ideas of impact, business and profit mean different things to different people, making it important to understand the factors involved in classifying different types of business and organisation.
10min

This game uses real-life examples to allow you to compare your thinking with a standard classification of social and environmental impact in order to challenge your own viewpoint and sensitise yourself to the different arguments and issues that arise.

Short descriptions

  • TOMS: TOMS is an American company, based in California. The company designs and sells shoes, eyewear, coffee, apparel, and handbags. The business model of TOMS is based on the “one for one” – model: when TOMS sells a pair of shoes, a new pair of shoes is given to an impoverished child, when Toms sells eyewear, part of the profit is used to save or restore eyesight for people in developing countries. https://www.toms.com/improving-lives
  • HISBE: HISBE stands for “how it should be.”  HIBSE Food embodies fair, responsible and sustainable trading practices and is dedicated to making a positive contribution to the local community. By putting people before profit, HISBE is reinventing the way supermarkets do business in a beneficial way. Rather than prioritizing delivering short-term profit like the big supermarkets do, HISBE focus on making a fair profit while supporting the local economy, creating a happy community and standing up for responsible food industry. https://hisbe.co.uk/
  • Apple Inc.: Apple Inc. is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California, that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and online services. Apple is the world’s largest information technology company by revenue, the world’s largest technology company by total assets, and the world’s second-largest mobile phone manufacturer after Samsung.
  • Querstadtein: The organization from Berlin offers guided city tours in Berlin and Dresden from the perspective of homeless people and refugees. Tourists pay a fee for participating at the tours. Besides, subsidies, donations and membership fees fund the organization. Querstadtein strives for financing its activities solely by the tour fees. https://querstadtein.org/
  • Fairphone: Fairphone designs, manufactures and markets modular smartphones and accessories. The Dutch company aims to create positive social and environmental impact from the beginning to the end of a phone’s life cycle. The phones are developed based on the approaches of long-lasting design, fair materials, good working conditions as well as reuse and recycling. https://www.fairphone.com/
  • RRRevolve: The eco-concept store and online platform RRRevolve from Zurich, Switzerland sells sustainable and fair produced apparel. With the fair fashion brands, the team aims to provide alternatives to conventionally produced apparel coming with negative impacts for the environment and people. https://rrrevolve.ch/content/4-uber-rrrevolve
  • World Wildlife Fund (WWF): The WWF is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961, working in the field of wilderness preservation, and the reduction of human impact on the environment. The majority of the income comes from public donations in the form of memberships, adoptions and legacies. 84% of WWF’s spending is directed to worldwide conservation activities, 11% is invested in fundraising activities and 5% goes into finance and administration. https://www.worldwildlife.org/about/financials
  • Viva con Agua: Viva con Agua is an initiative with the aim to improve access to clean drinking water and sanitation in developing countries. Viva con Agua funds its projects with different fundraising activities for example at music festivals, concerts, or sports events. Besides, Viva con Agua works with local mineral water producers in Germany and Switzerland selling bottled mineral water with a Viva con Agua label. On the one hand, this is a marketing approach to promote the initiative Viva con Agua. On the other hand, Viva con Agua earns a small percentage for each bottle sold which is reinvested into the projects. http://www.vivaconagua.ch/
  • Embrace Innovations: Embrace Innovations develops healthcare technologies focused on reducing infant and maternal deaths in emerging markets. Founded as the non-profit organization “Embrace” in 2008, in 2012 the for-profit enterprise Embrace Innovation was established. This entity sells Embrace products to “bottom of the pyramid”-communities mainly in India that are able to afford the products. For each product sold, Embrace Innovation pays a royalty to the non-profit organization Embrace, which owns the intellectual property. This money, in turn, is used by Embrace (nonprofit) to engage in impoverished communities and distributes Embrace products for free to clinics and hospitals. https://www.embraceinnovations.com/
  • Textbooks for Change: Students from Canada and the US donate their used textbooks. 20 per cent of the textbooks are re-sold to students at the college/university of their collection source; 50 per cent of the textbooks are donated to students in need at underserved universities in the developing world. Out-dated, damaged, or unusable textbooks are recycled (30%). The profits are split between the student groups/clubs, program administration costs, and any remaining funds are used to support social programs in developing communities. https://textbooksforchange.com/

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