Entrepreneurship and philanthropy are two concepts that typically do not mix well. However, some laudable companies have taken the initiative to make profit while giving back to community. These companies include TOMS, Yoobi, Freitag, and many more. They have undeniably contributed to society and have kept the economy from being selfish and money-driven.
Although they may have started with a basic, naive idea of making profit while giving back to the community, there have inevitably been complications and unforeseen consequences for some companies.
Yoobi’s company statement is “one for you, one for me.” In other words, for every Yoobi item purchased, a Yoobi item will be donated to a US classroom in need. According to their official website, they have successfully donated school supplies to 2 million students and counting. Yoobi works in conjunction with the Kids in Need Foundation, whose goal is to “empower all kids to be successful in school.”
Freitag is a company founded in 1993 by two brothers who wanted to create a versatile and waterproof bag. Their philosophy was to “think and act in cycles.” According to their website, the brothers received inspiration from the traffic in the Zurich transit intersection, which led to the development of “a messenger bag [made] from used truck tarpaulins, discarded bicycle inner tubes and car seat belts.” In 2014, they switched the fabrics used to make the bags to “completely compostable textiles [that] are based on bast fibers that are produced using a minimum of resources within a 2500-kilometer radius of headquarters.”
TOMS started out as a local, small-scale company in Texas by founder Blake Mycoskie. The company was founded on the goal of donating a pair of TOMS for every pair bought. However, unlike the prior two companies, it has recently faced criticism that the donations of shoes hurt the local economy by diminishing footwear sales, ultimately leaving the communities in a worse state than before. TOMS has since modified their initial plans and “now tries to source [the shoes] from local producers to help strengthen struggling economies.”
Whether or not the philosophies of philanthropic companies create unwanted consequences, all have started with the basic idea of giving back to the community and to the poor. Other companies should also start to adopt philanthropic entrepreneurship and follow the commendable examples laid out by Yoobi, Freitag, and TOMS because in order for the world to be sustainable, we must come together as one and live harmoniously.