This week we had the opportunity to talk about Ethix with a group of students from The San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking. They were looking for innovative companies to use as the subject of 30 second ads that they are creating as part of their course work. We are eagerly awaiting news on whether we got selected for the project but in the meantime they asked us some great questions that got me thinking about some of the principles that were foundational to Ethix and that inspired us to launch the company. One of the questions was “Why is Ethix a for-profit company?”
Answer is Yes!
Ethix is a social enterprise. Enterprise as in a productive endeavor in the private sector and social as in thinking beyond our bottom line in the way we do business. I have a huge amount of respect for all the work that is done and the impact that is created in the non-profit sector but I had a different vision for the company I wanted to help build. There are a lot of reasons for this but these are the highlights.
Philanthropy isn’t enough! On a very basic level, the idea that we should support the health, well being and education of the majority of our citizens through government spending or donations is running out of rope. If the fact that this model is broken is not enough to convince you, think about it like this. Should our social, educational and community needs be reliant on “left over” money that drops out of the private economy in the form of charitable donations. There is something wrong with that. Companies all over the world are learning that they have a vested interesest in the health and education of their customers and employees. It is part of their bottom line. Doesn’t it make more sense to move towards a more integrated economy that promotes the creation of private wealth while contributing to the broader social economy on which it depends to thrive?
We have a point to make… Seriously! The financial service industry is chock-a-block with revenue models that baffle consumers and charge huge sums in fees and murky charges with very little value or accountability. Merchant services is one of the worst offenders here. We want to prove that it is not simply possible, but profitable to repurpose these models and make them transparent, ethical and socially responsible. Possible to the tune of 25% of our total revenues at Ethix and profitable to the tune of… Well. We will find out and keep you in the loop but things are going great.
Business is Social. We think that the distinction between business and social needs is false. Businesses do better in thriving local communities. We are in the business of reconnecting businesses with social needs in their local areas in a way that does not cost them a dime and actually saves them money.
Making Money… is great. We think so and our sales people think so and the non-profits and community groups that benefit from our Ethix Program agree.