social enterprise Archives - WBGS
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social enterprise Tag

Volunteer for an Inclusive Future

“The diverse and dynamic role of volunteerism in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals merits strong support from Governments and other stakeholders. On this International Day, I thank volunteers for their efforts to leave no one behind.” UN Secretary-General António Guterres

World’s Biggest Garage Sale wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment expressed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. We fully support the pursuit of equality — including inclusion — through volunteerism, highlighting United Nations SDG 10, with the theme for #IVD2019 being “Volunteer for an inclusive future”.

Our recent venture ‘If The Shoe Fits’ in at the Brisbane Wintergarden simply would not have been possible without the generous support of volunteers who believe in our mission and give of their time freely in pursuit of a better world. We want to take time today to honour their contribution and to express our gratitude for their efforts.

Volunteering provides opportunities for people, particularly those often excluded/marginalised, to play a constructive role in their communities building confidence. We recently held a Queen of Shoes event to include the LGBTQ community of Brisbane and provide an inclusive space for them to shop for shoes. When asked about one of his favourite moments in-store, WBGS super volunteer Wassim, said:

“I had a great moment in the recent venture at If The Shoe Fits, where one of our amazing return customers came up to me and said “Thank you so much! I have never felt confident or safe to shop for shoes. Thank you for having this space.” I was in tears because it doesn’t take much to be kind and inclusive. This goes to show the heart and realness of what is being done here beyond the shoes, the money and the environment. It’s not a coincidence the logo is a Heart, it’s the core of all this business’ values.

We welcome everyone at World’s Biggest Garage Sale. Our company’s practices echo the thoughts of the United Nations who say “Through volunteerism, communities around the world often experience strengthened solidarity and inclusion”, and we welcome everyone at World’s Biggest Garage Sale events. Our inclusive community provides a role and safe space for everyone.

Why Volunteer?

  • Help the Environment: volunteering with WBGS absolutely helps to better your community and the environment through landfill diversion, creation of the #circulareconomy and raising much needed funds for causes.
  • Improve your Wellbeing: It also helps to better you as an individual. Volunteering is a free way to feel good about yourself and build confidence in skills outside of your normal work. The best part is that you get to share that positivity to fellow volunteers and develop new friendships and a sense of connectedness.
  • Reduce Stress: It’s a great way to reduce stress that may come from work or other relationships.
  • Build Hard & Soft Skills: You can build hard skills and experience in an area you would like to move into. And volunteer tasks will involve working with a diverse mix of people, giving you a chance to improve teamwork & communication skills, so you can gel better with others. You’ll inevitably run into various roadblocks at some point allowing you to hone your problem-solving and creative-thinking skills.
  • Fill-in Employment Gaps: If you’re in between gigs, a great way to stay engaged and proactive is to volunteer at WBGS. There are brilliant opportunities for networking and who knows, a volunteer stint with us could lead you to your next job!!

To all the volunteers out there, thank-you for your hard work, the laughs, the mucking-in, the solidarity and for making WBGS the special organisation that is. If you’d like to volunteer with us at Brisbane’s first circular economy Pop-up, we still have slots available at If The Shoe Fits and several events planned for 2020 — you can volunteer here! Have a fantastic International Volutneer’s Day and here’s to many more great events together in 2020!!

#volunteer4inclusion #IVD2019

Volunteering to Make a World of Difference

This week is National Volunteer Week 2019, and this year’s theme is ‘making a world of difference’. At WBGS volunteers are integral to our events and the social impact that is a direct result of our events.

WBGS Volunteers

From the very beginning, volunteers have been integral to the World’s Biggest Garage Sale. Some amazing connections, experiences and even marriages that have come from volunteering at our events! These volunteers, many who have come to help year after year, really have been ‘making a world of difference’.

Some of our international student volunteers from WBGS 2018

 The World’s Biggest Garage Sale Events are hosted, organised and run by volunteers from the local community. Our goal is to connect the community and activate them in sustainable consumption while raising funds for much needed causes. And the engine that drives the setup of events are the volunteers – real everyday heroes.

In QLD alone, volunteering is worth an estimated $11.6-billion to the economy, with 95% of volunteers reporting their volunteering activities are linked to feelings of positivity, happiness and increased well-being.

Benefits of Volunteering

So if you’re sitting there:

  • watching issues in the world or seeing problems that need to be addressed, or
  • maybe you want to learn something new and build some skills or
  • you’d like to meet some new people while engaged in a worthwhile activity

 

then volunteering for a cause that you care about can tick many of these boxes. Interestingly volunteering was associated with less work–life conflict, burnout and stress, and better positive mental health, according to a study from researchers at the University of Zurich. So if you’re pondering “Why would I give my time to something for free?” the rewards appear to outweigh the time invested.

Volunteering with another group outside of your normal activities, in tasks that you may not regularly perform, can offer perspective and variety, which can be rejuvenating. If it’s tied to a cause that you care about, the benefits will multiply.

Corporate Volunteering

The World’s Biggest Garage Sale time recently took part in Global Payments Inc. #DayOfService at their Brisbane HQ. We spent time cleaning the streets with the Brisbane City Council Litter Prevention group, who provided some wonderful education on changing habits to keep our city cleaner! And the Global Payments team are a great example of a corporation that integrates volunteering into their ethos.

The WBGS Team at Global Payments ‘Day of Service’

If you care about sustainable consumption and want to help raise funds for much needed causes, then volunteering at one of our World’s Biggest Garage Sale Events would be a great fit. We welcome anyone and everyone and can find a role or task that you would enjoy – from department manager, to catering, to driving a forklift!

It can be a great team building exercise for companies aswell. According to Romualdo Ramos, one of the authors of the University of Zurich study “It does seem to be the case that people who volunteer are in their paid work more engaged”. Seems counterintuitive but companies like Global Payments and CISCO have caught onto the value of volunteering.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as we celebrate our own wonderful and valuable volunteers over the next week, who have helped make a world of difference!  

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