How to blend profitability with social impact
- Nov 13, 2012
In our second Global Entrepreneurship Week report of the day we stop off in Canada, for a lesson in Screwing Business as Usual from Raise5…
It feels like just yesterday when Raise5 won Virgin Unite’s ‘Screw Business as Usual’ competition, but it’s already been six months and Raise5 has changed dramatically in that time. Virgin Unite and Sir Richard Branson’s recognition of our business’ potential has helped to legitimize Raise5 as a force for good and open some exciting doors for us. In particular, this summer we secured a spot at Impact Engine, a Chicago-based incubator that supports for-profit businesses making the world a better place. It’s an amazing community and we’ve had the chance to meet many inspiring and influential people who also care about using business as a force for good. So far this experience has been incredibly motivating for us and we are determined to take Raise5 as far as we can.
Raise5 empowers people to make a difference by using their own talents and hobbies to raise money for the causes they care about. Since our win, we’ve been busy making some key improvements to our platform to make it easier for the Raise5 community to do this. Our community members can now donate both services and products and we recently removed the $5 per service limit so that they can set their own prices for what they’re offering. We now offer an option that lets you browse by charity to see the full list of services and products being offered to support each charity. We’ve also added a blog to our site to keep our community connected to what’s new and where we feature other social enterprises doing some pretty cool things too.
We’ve found the entrepreneurial journey to be a humbling experience. We came into this business with a certain youthful arrogance, but we quickly discovered the importance of having a good team to cover the full range of talent that is essential to building a successful business. An important part of our growth has been the process of recognizing both our strengths and our weaknesses and finding additional team members who can bring with them some much needed expertise to fill some of the gaps. Since winning ‘Screw Business as Usual’, we’ve strategically added two new members to the team to enhance our communications and outreach capacities.
It’s been a tremendously rewarding experience thus far watching our business grow with each passing month. However, this process has not been without its ups and downs. Entrepreneurship is a tricky pursuit because there isn’t always a clear endpoint and it’s easy to be overcome with insecurity and anxiety about what the future holds. This is especially true when mainstream media portrays great entrepreneurs as overnight successes. As members of the entrepreneurial community, we can attest to the fact that even the brightest minds with the best ideas have to work tirelessly to bring their vision to fruition. And like any good challenge, this can at times be both grueling and fulfilling.
As we move forward we want to grow the Raise5 community to include an even wider range of amazing causes and talents for our members to support. Our business is based on the collective power of individual action, where every dollar raised by our community members works collectively to provide meaningful support for causes making a real difference in the world. Our success is dependent on our capacity to raise money for the charities and nonprofits. We love this about our business because along the way we get to support wonderful organizations helping to change the world. As we continue to grow and develop, we hope to enrich ourselves and the lives of others through Raise5. We are committed to showing the world and the business community that good business can and should generate both profits and positive social changes.
By Shayan Nahrvar, Co-founder of Raise5.com. Follow Raise5 on Twitter @Raise_5