Excerpt from Lisa Richardson's article found in Pique News Magazine's issue from December 22, 2010.
It's not just CEOs (or TEOs as Ranger dubs herself), who are embedding their values into the business operations. Supercorp author Rosabeth Moss Kanter noted that values-driven businesses also empower and engage employees. "And not surprisingly, these employees are more inclined to be creative when their company values innovation that helps the world."
Max Silverson is the 23-year-old manager at Mt Currie Coffee Company in Pemberton. When Silverson graduated into a flooded job market with a degree in international political economics, he found himself stuck between the mailroom jobs (too qualified) and the positions being filled by the ranks of the recently laid-off (not qualified enough). So he came skiing.
To acknowledge International Human Rights Day he suggested to his boss and colleagues that the café's staff donate their Dec. 10 tips to Kiva.
"I think charity is awesome but I don't really know how to do it most of the time," explains Silverson. "Microfinance was my favourite type of development that I studied because of the values it represents, empowering people to do the things that they want. Kiva loans people money without interest, they pay it back and we can loan it out again. A tiny little one-day fundraiser immediately results in four to six loans that we can redistribute again and again."
In fact, the tiny little fundraiser generated $145, which owner Chris Ankeny matched, and has already been loaned to 12 entrepreneurs in Honduras, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Bolivia, Peru, Uganda, Lebanon and the Dominican Republic, who people can follow through the Mt. Currie Coffee Co's Facebook page and website.
Explains Ankeny, "We try and help on a local level with fundraisers and events as much as we can, but I thought it would be cool to help on a more global level. For me, as an entrepreneur, I know how hard it is to run a business, and I'm lucky enough to live in a first world nation."
But business has been pretty slow lately. Silverson admits he wasn't sure how successful the initiative would be. "I had low expectations. But it was awesome. People were sneaking $20 bills into the jar when we weren't looking."
Recently, the café also sourced biodegradable to-go cups, organic teas, free-range local eggs and a new supplier of quality meats that meant investing in a new slicer. "I'm taking a hit in my margins," explains Ankeny, "to try and make a better product. And it's my values, too. Do I want to be eating meat injected full of hormones? Do I want my child to? My customers? Hopefully it will help the business, as well."
THE BOTTOM LINE:
It's weird to mix poetry with profit-talk, but maybe we need to be less averse to that. As Isabelle Ranger says, "If I look at somebody in the business world, I don't normally think of 'good', and it's time for that picture to change."
The financial crisis, according to a recent piece in the Economist, was triggered by "a bout of corporate social irresponsibility on a massive scale... Now corporate leaders have a chance to show that they are not just motivated by short-termism after all."
Woody Tasch, a venture capitalist and entrepreneur, is arguing in favour of a revolution. A slow money revolution.
"We need to stop thinking about money as lubrication for a machine that is everywhere and nowhere and at no given moment, and to start thinking about money as irrigation for the field of our intentions, which are expressed right here, right now, where we live and where we work," writes Tasch in Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money.
Slow Money is both a movement and an investment strategy, a shift of the financial system towards something that serves people and place as much as it serves industry sectors and markets. He has no idea how to do it. But he's willing to say: we should connect these dots. Between our wallets and our hearts.
Consumers are starting to make the connection. Will Whistler?
Read the entire article here: