Sustainability Archives - WBGS
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Sustainability

Profit for Purpose – Bringing Heart Back to Business

It’s a confronting and vulnerable experience putting yourself out there on national TV wearing a love heart on your chest and professing your desire to build a business based on people, planet and profit for purpose. Now we are preparing for our seed round this is the perfect opportunity to explore our triple bottom line focus.

Someone recently said to me, ‘oh you’re a not-for-profit’ and I said ‘no actually we’re profit for purpose’ and they looked at me confused, seeking clarification.

Profit for Purpose

To put everyone in the picture a “Profit for Purpose” business is ‘led by a mission to achieve social, community and environmental benefit through trading and by channeling a portion of their profits toward their mission.’ (1)

And this is exactly how we operate – mobilising dormant goods and harnessing the circular economy leading to reduced waste while simultaneously creating profit for purpose for our customers who host events. To cement this even further we are in the process of formalising as a B Corps which means we:

  • Aim to meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose and
  • we will use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for employees, communities, and the environment. (2)

But my question to everyone is “when did we start forgetting about purpose and just go full tilt at profit?”. And when I say purpose, that doesn’t include a purpose that revolves around just making profit! In venture capital land the chase is still very much focused on lassoing the next Unicorn. Why is doing good for people and planet, plus doing well financially, considered a crazy far-flung concept?

Borrowing from Ted Rheingold, a common question from investors is:

Q: ‘Why don’t you just earn your wealth first, and then donate it afterward?”

A: ‘Why don’t you want to build a highly profitable business that can provide impact more reliably than your future donations?’ (3)

To the investors out there my question to you is: “Take a long hard look at the why of a company, and I mean the real why (not the ‘to make profit’ why) and check whether they’re trying to make the world a better place, not just disrupt existing systems, gather a whole swagger of followers in a short space of time and make quick gains.”

Businesses Aligned to Purpose

I was really heartened by our RiverPitch experience, particularly when I heard Yohan Ramasundara President of the ACS say “It’s really exciting, startups are exciting and ones (startups) with a purpose are even more exciting (because they’re going) to change the world.”

And what is business really? Businesses are teams of people aligned to a common vision, who provide goods and services, to help others by solving problems. If they’re guided by Milton Friedman’s concept that the ‘only social responsibility of companies is to create profit’ then I think current sentiment would agree they are misguided.  Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock certainly believes we need to move in a different direction, “As wealth shifts and investing preferences change, environmental, social, and governance issues will be increasingly material to corporate valuations.”

We need to remember that we all spend so much of our waking lives working in business or interacting with business – whether it’s yours or someone else’s. Surely we want businesses to be led not just by profit, but to be underpinned by a basic human decency that requires care (aka love) for our environment and the community.

As the Spellbinder from Robin Sharma’s The 5am Club said:

“The great women and men of the world were all givers, not takers.  Renounce the common delusion that those who accumulate the most win. Instead do work that is heroic – that staggers your marketplace by the quality of its originality as well as from the helpfulness is provides.”

We want to live and breathe this at World’s Biggest Garage Sale and build a profitable business, where people come to work expressing the best versions of themselves while helping others and solving the world’s problems. We want to activate the circular economy and reduce waste and give a large portion of the wealth generated from this enterprise back to the community along the way. And on this journey we want to address as many of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals as we possibly can and demonstrate a new type of business model that can help achieve #agenda2030.

Patient Capital

We’re looking for investors who are aligned to our vision, for people who are patient with their capital (not greedily needing a return asap) to be part of a business that aims to provide impact every step of the way. As Vicki Saunders, SheEO Founder says:

“The pursuit of maximizing profit at the expense of everything else has created a global crisis of inequality, environmental degradation and countless critical challenges to humanity.

Only considering financial returns has led to a winner takes all mindset where 5 people have the same wealth as half the planet. This economic model is entirely broken and needs a radical rethinking.”

Original Image: Brian Trelstad, Kauffman Fellows

 

With that in mind, the capital we have in mind comes for a person who thinks long term and is comfortable with the following:

  • Longer time horizon for return of capital
  • Forgoing maximum financial returns for greater social impact
  • Unwillingness to sacrifice the interests of the end customer/employees/community/environment  for shareholder gains
  • Greater tolerance for risk than traditional investment capital

This diagram demonstrates our position really well.

 

As a profit for purpose company, we strive for more than just a sustainable business model that creates wealth from waste in the community.  Our passion and purpose is a triple bottom line focus, with community and sustainability (including the Sustainable Development Goals….aka the SDGs or #globalgoals) equal measures in the success of our scaling journey. We genuinely agree with Richard Branson

 

‘The brands that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that have a purpose beyond profit’

 

We are excited to be opening our Seed Investment Round. Please contact us if you would like to learn more.

 

References

 

  1. https://food-x.com/profit-purpose-business-model-whose-time-come/
  2. https://bcorporation.com.au/about-b-corps
  3. https://www.fastcompany.com/40420834/the-non-paradox-of-highly-successful-profit-from-purpose-businesses

Circular Economy Brisbane Innovators in our Midst

Monday night was another fantastic Circular Economy Futures Meetup for Brisbane. We discussed ‘waste to wealth’ and explored innovative and sustainable solutions for building a Circular Economy. There are some excellent businesses in Brisbane doing some really great work, tackling different issues. From prolonging the life of industrial equipment, to creating useful products from waste, Brisbane has seem real innovators in its midst.

 

Brad Parsons, CEO, MOVUS

Harnessing the Circular Power of AI: ‘Turning Dumb Machines Into Smart Machines’

Our first speaker, Brad Parsons, CEO of MOVUS, discussed how they’re helping to bring sustainability to industry. MOVUS’ world-leading Industrial IoT (IIoT) solution FitMachine® transforms dumb equipment into ‘smart equipment’. It enables this through consumer styled simplicity combined with world-class artificial intelligence. MOVUS’ FitMachine proactively monitors the condition and operating performance of industrial equipment.

Brad challenged us to look at the ‘way’ we live. Their work really fits into the inner circle of maintain/prolong within the Ellen Macarthur Foundation butterfly diagram. Their devices improve asset management and lifecycle optimization, with maintenance teams proactively monitoring and maintaining equipment, rather than reacting to failures or following OEM preventive maintenance schedules. The overall outcome being waste reduction, increased efficiency and empowered people. There was some really great discussion around prolonging the life of machines and keeping them in good working order for as long as possible.

 

Brendan Lee, Circular Economy Manager, Closed Loop

Trash to Treasure: Innovation in Recycling

Our second speaker, Brendan Lee, Circular Economy Manager of Closed Loop, showed us some of the great work they’ve been doing. Very much focused on creating sustainable solutions within existing business models they are finding useful products from waste. Their work sits on the outer arm of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation butterfly diagram looking at recycling. With their Simply Cups coffee cup solution they’re providing an excellent mechanism to ensure the excess of 1 billion disposable coffee cups avoid landfill in Australia. They’re collecting the coffee cups and transforming this trash into treasure with several innovative products emerging, ranging from coat hangers and bricks to pallets and even a keep-cup the rCup®, made from the disposed coffee cups. If that isn’t circular, then I don’t know what is!

They’re also tackling food waste, by providing customers with commercial on-site composting units recycling organic matter, with the capacity to reduce food waste volume by up to 90 per cent in 24 hours. This is some seriously impressive technology, with the machines taking food and organic waste throughout the day, including fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, fish, poultry, eggshells, crustacean shells and liquid. Within 24 hours, the original material is transformed into a concentrated compost ready for the garden!! Significantly improving on allowed inputs and time of home composting.

Highlighting MOVUS and Closed Loop on the Circular Economy Butterfly Diagram – Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, SUN, and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment; Drawing from Braungart & McDonough, Cradle to Cradle (C2C)

 

Our First Youth Speaker: Activating the Sustainable Development Goals

Finally, we heard from Sarah and Simeon, co-founders of Illuminating Distractions, a mother and son team working together to educate and engage people on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Illuminating Distractions is a start-up supported by St Paul’s School Centre for Innovation (CIE) and Entrepreneurship. With a passion for the world and a desire to make sure people are educated on sustainable practices, Sarah and Simeon created a fun and interactive card game to teach players about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. And we’re big proponents of SD12 Responsible Consumption and Production, where Circular Economy practices will really come to the fore to address this goal. They’ve already sold over 100 units including some to the United Nations! Our future is in good hands with young leaders like Simeon leading the change.

 

Slide by Illuminating Distractions, Sarah & Simeon Gover

 

The event has really grown over the last few months and the energy on Monday night was fantastic – plenty of robust discussion and connection before and after the talks. It’s a really innovative, encouraging and supportive group proactively bringing the Circular Economy to life in Brisbane and Australia, all with solutions that have the potential to go global. If you have ideas or really care about the Circular Economy, come along to our next Event Wednesday, April 24 to learn and share.

 

Embrace the #Manbassador in You!

We celebrated IWD last week with so many great men and women and during the week we stumbled across a fantastic term Manbassador (full credit to Leanne Kemp, Chief Entrepreneur of Queensland). And what an inspiring term it is!

So let’s break it down. We’d be most familiar with political ambassadors who represent their country in another nation and build relationships. According to the Oxford dictionary, an ambassador is also a representative or promoter of a specified activity.

 

Awesome #manbassadors — Harley WestonIsaac Holmyard & Marc Orchard

In the context of IWD and #balanceforbetter, a Manbassador is someone who represents, promotes and supports women in all the arenas that have traditionally only been reserved for men. They’re also the guys who believe our voices, opinions and contributions matter as much as theirs — they recognise that they’re as much on this journey to balance, equality and fairness as any of us women are.

While we’ve come a long way as a society, women still start life behind the eight ball. We’re born into a world where men hold the majority of government and corporate leadership positions — and the reality is, people at the top set the tone for the group and these groups make up our society. Manbassadors can provide a pathway to balance by promoting and supporting the idea of women in leadership roles.

One of the many benefits of balance is diversity and diversity increases a team’s creativity and performance. A balanced group is also more representative of the world we live in and that’s a world I want to live in.

Manbassador extraordinaire Michael ReidCISCO, supporting women in the workplace.

My husband has always been an ambassador for women, giving me complete support to live life in the best way for me and us as a family. And with 2 daughters we want to know they will have every opportunity to live the life of their dreams.

We’re still not 100% used to seeing women in leadership positions but both men and women need to embrace it. Women need to be brave enough to be seen as the female at the table and bring our insights, instincts and emotions to the discussion. And men need to get comfortable with it too — showing passion and emotion (including tears!) does not warrant the label of hysterical! Manbassadors can help usher in a change of perception and allow women to be themselves in business settings.

And before I go any further, we want to acknowledge all the hardworking men who have traditionally been the providers — no easy job that comes with significant pressure, ensuring your family is safe and protected, with a roof over their heads and enough food to eat, allowing them to live happily.

 

Yet more awesome #manbassadors — Peter LaurieLlew JuryCristo Pajust

One concrete way #manbassadors can help right now is by sponsoring a woman via SheEO. “SheEO is a global initiative designed to radically transform the way we finance, support, and celebrate female entrepreneurs who are creating new mindsets, new models and new solutions that are benefiting humanity.”

Less than 4% of venture capital flows to female founders. To all the wonderful male champions of change (aka #manbassadors), please consider sponsoring a woman in your family or your office. Alternatively contact me and I will connect you to wonderful women changemakers that you can support. The youngest Activator is 14 and receiving a masterclass in business and investment surrounded by supportive committed mentors.

 

#manbassador Mark Healy from Global Payments Inc.bringing balance on IWD

A huge shout out to Global Payments Inc. who are the first global organisation to activate for SheEO!!

We live in interesting times, with so many inspiring women out there leading the charge and #manbassadors right beside them, not holding their hands, but supporting and encouraging them as equals.

Plogging - pick up waste while Jogging!

We hope your week has been as productive and joyful as ours has been here at WBGS. With plenty of new and exciting ideas in the pipeline, there are a few fun things we wanted to share with you, both in our local community and nationwide.

You may have seen local community members carrying bags full of plastic and wondered what their intended use could be. Implemented in November last year, the Queensland Containers for Change Scheme refunds 10c for every eligible bottle or can collected, and this small incentive successfully saw 100 million bottles and cans collected within the first two months of its implementation! What you see in our communities is the beginning of more plastic being taken off the streets and out of landfill. We are so excited about this great initiative to take back needless waste and cycle money back into the community — this amazing effort will help us all reduce the number of plastic containers going to landfill each year. We now need to raise efforts toensure these containers become the food for future production.

 

We love active things with great messages and feel that establishing human connections while working hard towards environmental sustainability is really important. Last Friday we went #plogging along the Brisbane river and through the Botanic Gardens, finding many items along the water’s edge — plastic bags, bottles, polystyrene and even a red shoe (totally on brand, but ready for the bin unfortunately!). You’ll often find a lot of waste in or near water and I think it’s important to remember that anything we produce as a society needs to have an appropriate place at it’s end of life.

 

And that’s the perfect lead-in to Australia’s largest and most successful community-based environmental event which is coming up next week. Australians all over the country will be gathering in their local communities to #cleanupaustralia, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Schools, businesses, youth groups, community groups and councils alike will spend their sunny Sunday picking up rubbish that’s accumulated in public areas across the nation. Did you know in 2018, the estimated rubbish removed came to 16,942.2 ute loads?! Though our primary goal is always to prevent rubbish entering our environment, it’s also just as important to take a look around and remove the rubbish that is already there.

 

If you’d like to create or join a Clean Up, please head over to the Clean Up Australia Day website to find out how. Depending on who you choose to clean up your community with, there are a couple of main dates where you’ll be able to chip in with workmates, friends and family!

Business Clean Up Day — Tuesday 26 February 2019

Youth and Schools Clean Up Day — Friday 1 March 2019

Clean Up Australia Day — Sunday 3 March 2019

How To Make Valentine’s Day Romantic While Reducing Your Environmental Footprint

I can’t believe it’s already February! Just like that, the holiday period is over and we are well on our way into what I’m sure will be a very busy year for us all, especially here at WBGS! However, before we completely lose ourselves in business as usual, let’s make one last excuse to take a relaxing break and spend a day with the people that mean the most.

Whether you’re celebrating with a loved one, friends or family, Valentine’s Day is closing in fast (February 14th for those who don’t already have it down), and it’s always good to have something special planned for the occasion, big or small.

As humans, we often find ourselves getting carried away with the glamorousness of it all — a romantic and expensive evening out, an elaborate bouquet of flowers and a big bunch of pink and red balloons, chocolate… More chocolate…

BUT as much as lavish celebrations are fun and exciting, it’s also important to take a step back and remember why we’re celebrating. How we can make these moments even more special, by making meaningful choices that take back control from the cost, consumerism and carbon footprint Valentine’s Day tends to draw. For whoever you’re giving out candy hearts to this year, we have some top tips to make sure it’s suitable and sustainable!

Bake it don’t buy it

If you love the idea of celebrating love and are wanting to go all out, we suggest a fun-filled picnic followed by some gift exchanges and a cheeky wine to end the night on a high. Consider packing a homemade picnic with delicious sandwiches and organic fruits to go along with your drink of choice, instead of pre-packaged and mass-produced items from the supermarket. You will save a whole lot of dollars and a whole lot of plastic waste!

Photo by John Dancy on Unsplash

For dessert, perhaps opt for some fair trade organic chocolate (we really like the brand Loving Earth!) or bake your own desserts from scratch! Nothing beats the satisfaction of biting into a perfectly soft and chewy cookie made from home. Save some for your date, though!

DIY gifts

If you’re crafty, you may consider going an extra step and making your own gift. A hand-knitted scarf or a home-pottered mug will go such a long way and your significant other or family members will truly appreciate the time, effort and thought you put into the project. Otherwise, buy pre-loved gifts, something handmade, support your local merchants and choose fair trade. Swap a bouquet out for a house plant that your gift recipient can keep for a lot longer than flowers! Get creative with it and opt for something that will be as long-lasting as the love you hold for your loved one (corny, I know).

Lastly, no matter who you’re giving to this V Day, make your cards from scratch! Find some old cardboard or materials around your house (maybe some glitter if you’re feeling extra festive) and recycle them into some amazing, homemade, love-filled greeting cards that will be cherished for so long! (Can you tell that I’m feeling the love?)

Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

We hope that wherever you are this Valentine’s Day, that you take a moment to celebrate the incredible privilege that it is to be surrounded by those you love! (We love you, too.) Happy Valentine’s Day!