Recent years have seen the rise of a new breed of entrepreneur, the social entrepreneur. These entrepreneurs believe in profits but they also believe in making a positive social impact.
Masami Sato is one of them, but her early life seemed to indicate anything but entrepreneurship. When she was in school, the fear of speaking nearly caused her to have a nervous breakdown. She grew up in a family with six children that struggled, in the beginning, to make ends meet. When she grew up, she lived in a community that felt capitalism and materialism would destroy the world.
What is Giving Business About?
Masami Sato’s journey into social entrepreneurship began with a food business called “Bouncing Olive.” While still struggling to keep the business afloat, Sato discussed her persistent dream of using business to improve society with others. Upon hearing her speak, some mentioned a simple concept: “Buy One, Give One.”
With that one concept, Sato (with the help of her husband and others) launched a simple but powerful initiative. For every meal purchased, the business would donate a meal to a nonprofit addressing childhood hunger. Sato took that idea and expanded it. In her book, she explains, “We no longer needed to wait until we were successful to give. With this approach, any and every business would become a Giving Business, immediately.”
Sato shares why she believes a charitable business is so powerful in the book Giving Business: Creating the Maximum Impact In A Meaning-Driven World. The world is more aware these days of the potential negative impacts of a “profit at all costs” business on human health, society and the environment. This awareness coincided with the rise of the internet, making social responsibility more visible. When a business uses sweatshop labor, cheats consumers, or engages in other bad behavior, the world can now easily find out about it and spread the message.
This pressure on businesses to do the right thing isn’t something businesses should grudgingly accept. The best businesses are known for the values they bring to their customers’ lives. This value goes beyond making a new shoe or new app. What impact does the business have on the people who interact with it? The answer to this question can be the distinguishing factor between a customer buying from this business or that one. Those businesses that are able to demonstrate they are invested in their community beyond simple financial profit will reap the rewards in long-term customer loyalty.
Sato, who wrote the book, is the founder of B1G1 (Buy One, Give One Foundation), a speaker and social entrepreneur who developed a global initiative for a values-based business while raising two kids and running a food delivery business. She is also a 2-time TedX speaker.
What Was Best About Giving Business?
The best part of Giving Business is the enthusiastic optimism the author brings for small to medium-sized business owners who want to make a social impact with the resources they have. Most books on corporate social responsibility leave the small and medium-sized business out of the equation with discussions on foundations, grants, etc.
Sato says that you can dispense with that. Any business can be in the business of giving. Her book shows how and why.
What Could Have Been Done Differently
Giving Business is an excellent “get back to basics” primer for getting at the root of corporate social responsibility. That being said, the book focuses on a single case study for analysis (the author’s own social enterprise). More stories that show businesses using the Giving Business perspective might add more inspiration and motivation for small and medium-sized businesses to take on similar efforts.
Why Read Giving Business?
Giving Business is targeted for small to medium-sized business leaders who want to make a positive social impact but don’t have the resources of a full-fledged foundation behind them. In the book, the author uses her own personal story to show how businesses can contribute to society above and beyond the normal. Her book guides readers through the simple ways they can improve their business value, enhance their social impact, and maintain customer loyalty in an uncertain business world. No matter what technology or business you are in, businesses that stick to their values and invest in improving society will always retain a loyal customer base.