moores law sustainability=celebrate social solutions worldwide

world greatest inventions systemised by Dr Yunus global social business system

Yunus' modesty has prohibited development of a Y fashion signature even though

 

1 it could be a quality mark for supply chains whose factories don't fall down

2 he has many leading partners in fashion including Japan's global fashion retailer UNIQLO and number 2 online retailer Otto

3 his daughter's network offers the most relevant gamechanger for mass media but needs his partners' signature; also if yunus and eg Bula are to celebrate responsible sportstars at Brazil's 2 world stage events, a recognizable logo needs planting

4 it could be a quality audit sign for all economic models that don't collapse youth futures

5 youth and yunus logo can help free online university - search codename moocyunus

 

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For me its a pity when yunus leaves the hi-trust global signature and signification space open to such entries as this


Matthew Bishop

Matthew Bishop

US Business Editor at The Economist; guest interviewer for Newswire.fm; speaker through Leading Authorities

Turning Feeding the Hungry into a Lifestyle Brand. Three Lessons in Social Business from Lauren Bush's Big Idea

 

The grand-daughter of the first President Bush and niece of the second, Lauren Bush is now building a reputation in her own right as a successful entrepreneur. As the New York Times reported the other day, in June she is teaming up with Target, a larger retail chain, to launch a 50-or-so item "lifestyle brand", ranging from "bakeware, tumblers, iPad sleeves, jewelry, baby bibs, scarves and women’s clothing" to her signature FEED bags (pictured).

What makes this lifestyle brand different from what, say, Martha Stewart might sell you is that it is built around a cause: feeding the hungry. Some of the proceeds from every item sold will go to Feeding America, a domestic hunger relief charity, just as some of the proceeds of her original line of FEED bags goes to organisations such as Unicef and the UN World Food Program to help starving people overseas.

As the child of a prominent American dynasty, embracing a worthy cause was perhaps to be expected of Ms Bush (now, technically, Ms Bush Lauren, since she married David Lauren, son of the fashion designer Ralph Lauren). What is surprising to me about her approach is that she has decided to embrace it as a for-profit business rather than as a traditional charity.

I recently interviewed her at the Nasdaq Marketsite for NEWSWIRE.FM, where she explained her decision to choose the for-profit route and her ambitions to create a lifestyle brand. You can watch a soundbite below:

In the interview, I was particularly struck by 3 points made by Ms Bush, who co-founded FEED in 2006 with her friend Ellen Gustafson.

First, no more "oh, you're just a charity". Being a for-profit brand helped FEED to be taken more seriously than if it had been a traditional charity. When talking to stores that might sell FEED bags, she found initially that mere mention of the cause got her referred to the "corporate social responsibility person". But to make a real impact she wanted to talk to the retailer's buyer or chief marketing officer, so she could focus on the appeal of her products in their own right, and thus win big orders, rather than playing to the bleeding heart of the CSR department. Over time, she has got her way, as retailers have seen how serious she is about her brand and business and its sales have soared. Furthermore, she adds, "the more we are taken seriously as a brand and the more we are competitive as a brand, because our product is better, the more philanthropic we can be."

Second, doing business is more fun than fundraising. "I like the hustle of being an entrepreneur", Ms Bush told me at one point. "I don't want to beg people for money. I prefer to sell them a product, to do business with them and raise money that way." Like many in the millennial generation who hope to "do well by doing good" in a social business, it is not just the doing well part that Ms Bush finds attractive. To many of them, like her, it is the business and entrepreneurial way of life as a whole that appeals. This is something traditional charities need to respond to if they want to recruit the most talented millennials, just as mainstream businesses need to figure out how to appeal to that generation's need to have some sort of social purpose in their work.

Third, millennials love to buy purposeful brands. (And, increasingly, not just millennials.) When Ms Bush launched FEED, the idea of a social business was relatively new; now, as she says, it is a "widely known idea - combining capitalism and giving back." (This is something Michael Green and I wrote about in our book, "Philanthrocapitalism".) There is a growing number of these cause-brands, including (RED), established by Bono to support the fight against HIV/Aids; TOMS, with its promise to give a pair of shoes to a needy person in the developing world for every pair it sells; and Warby Parker, an eyeglass company I wrote abouthere, which similarly gives away a pair of glasses to the needy for each pair it sells.

For Ms Bush, the simplicity of the cause promise is what makes the brand appealing to consumers. With Warby Parker and TOMS it is "buy one, give one"; with FEED, each bag carries a number stating exactly how many meals it provides. "This makes it easier for customers to engage in a simple way with a complex issue," she explains. (Of course, there is a risk that it is too simple, and that how, say, a product is given can undermine other efforts to help the needy, such as by helping them create, say, their own shoe making business. But this can be avoided with care, as FEED did for instance by partnering with experienced agencies such as Unicef, which ought to know how to avoid that basic error.)

Perhaps the trickiest part to evaluate is whether this approach raises new money for the cause, or diverts it from other channels of giving. Certainly, a lower share of revenues from FEED et al goes to the cause than would be the case if it were a well-run traditional charity. Ms Bush is vague about how much of FEED's revenues go to the hungry, beyond that it is at least 10% of the price of each item. In the world of traditional charity, typically an "overhead" of nearly 90% would be frowned upon, to say the least. Yet if FEED is attracting money that would otherwise be spent on similar fashion items that have no associated cause, then the more sales the better.

So far, Feed has raised over $6m, enough to buy 60 million meals. It has also made feeding the hungry a fashionable cause, which strikes me as quite an achievement.

What do you think?

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