Let’s Make Money by Doing Good!
This article was written by Uma Alagappan, a sophomore from Dartmouth College interning with Launch gURLs this fall. Uma is an essential part of our Impact Evaluation Team for our pilot, Girl Boss.
Gender inequality, climate change, racial injustice and poverty are just a few topics that weigh heavily on our minds when we think about the problems that plague our world. For many of us, the more we learn about these topics, the more we want to do something to change our world for the better. Often, we become so overwhelmed by the issues on a global or national level that we don’t know how to even start making a difference.
While these issues run deeper than the actions of one passionate young woman, a new business is a great way to tackle more focused issues that fall under these global scale challenges. Yes, you CAN make a difference!
There is a common misunderstanding in the business world: doing good work comes at the expense of making a profit. People often think that doing more good will reduce your profit, but it is this thinking that keeps the business and social impact sectors separate. You, our future female leaders, can change this thinking by starting businesses that make money by doing good.
- Select one global issue to focus on.
Time to focus! There are so many social issues in this world. While learning about them makes us wish that we could fix all of them at the same time, we can have a more meaningful impact if we focus on one (or two) issues. In fact, even taking on even one of these daunting issues such as gender inequality or racial injustice as a whole is overwhelming. This is why we have to break down the larger issue. We have to find how these issues play out on a smaller scale in order to discover the areas that are more manageable to work on. No single project will end climate change, but a more focused project can contribute to making my community more eco-friendly.
- Learn about the local impact of this issue.
Let’s dive deeper! Every global issue has a local impact. If we learn about how the issue that we are focusing on affects our community, we can find challenges that we will more likely be able to address. Finding these smaller scale challenges helps us find areas that we have more influence over and therefore can make a difference in. For example, if I am concerned about climate change and the environment, I would research how it affects my hometown. I may find that my hometown has a problem with littering on the beach, light pollution at night, a rising sea level that will put part of our town underwater in the next fifty years among other climate change related challenges.
- Identify the root causes of these local challenges.
Let’s get to the bottom of these challenges! Finding the root causes of local challenges will require some research. You can search online using reliable sources, go to the library, or talk to local experts. The most important part of this step is to find causes that you can have an impact on. Let’s go back to my example of the local impact of climate change. After talking to people who do a lot of beach clean up, I might find that littering on the beach comes mostly from plastic shopping bags. After researching online what causes light pollution, I might discover that the light pollution in my area is caused by lots of residential lights (people’s houses). The rising sea level comes from the greater effects of climate change.
- Know your ‘tool box.’ What skills, knowledge, training, and resources do you have?
You have a lot to offer! Knowing what skills, knowledge, training, and resources you have is essential to know how you can make a difference. Remember that resources include internet access (for youtube videos or other training resources), the people who know (those who can teach you new skills, connect you with more people, or support you in other ways), and hobbies (anything that you love to do). My ‘tool box’ changes as I learn more, grow as an individual, and meet new people. Launch gURLs can help add the basics of entrepreneurship to your ‘tool box,’ so starting a business is a great way to make a difference!
- How can your ‘tool box’ help address one of the root causes of your local challenges?
It’s time for some creativity! Knowing what we have to offer and what causes the local challenges we see, think about how you can apply your knowledge, skills, passions, and resources in order to address one of the root causes of the local challenges. A great business idea can provide solutions to these challenges while making money. For example, if I know how to sew, have cloth, access to videos on how to sew reusable shopping bags, and , I can start a business that sells reusable shopping bags. Ultimately, this would help my community become more eco-friendly and reduce litter on our beaches. This step can be challenging, so brainstorm with a friend, look online to see what others have done, and stay motivated by your passion for changing the world for the better!
- Set a work plan, and make your vision a reality!
As you know, starting a business takes a lot of work. Launch gURLs is a great resource for lea. A work plan is putting the long list of tasks in a calendar to know when you want to complete certain steps and keep your work moving at a pace that works well with any other responsibilities you have. The most important part of a work plan is setting reasonable expectations in a time frame that keeps you working on your business consistently. This consistency will help you stay organized and motivated by the progress that you are making.
I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me to find how I can start to make a difference.
Let’s make social impact an important part of business!