How you can make a difference: buy from social enterprises!

Are the world problems simply too great for you to do something about? Is it only the task of governments, NGOs or businesses to address them?

You may have wondered (like I did) if your donations have really made the difference. Despite a growth in the overall donations in The Netherlands, the image of traditional charities is clearly under pressure. How I know that? Just talk to your family & friends. Many people believe too much of their donations are used for overhead, admin or for fundraising. The salary-issues of CEOs have not helped either.

Should we then stop giving? No, I believe we should keep on giving to our favorite charities. Maybe I am naive but I strongly believe they’re generally trying to do the right thing and transparency has been on the rise. It doesn’t harm though to be personally involved and check what happens to your donations. Or if you don’t want to do a general donation, you may choose to support specific projects for example via crowdfunding.

However as a consumer we can do more! We can vote with our wallets. Every purchase you do is a vote of confidence in a brand or a product from a specific company. Ideally we should think and be conscious of every single purchase we make, but if you start step-by-step the world will already become a better place.

To give you an example: before I started Social Enterprise Solutions, I made some changes to my own shopping behavior. I don’t claim that I live a carbon-neutral lifestyle, I’m not even close to that as I enjoy traveling too much. However I now book my hotels via www.bookdifferent.com, always compensate for my CO2 emissions when traveling, order my books via www.youbedo.com.

I try to avoid buying plastic bottles in train stations and bring my own Dopper with me. I changed to a green energy provider after learning that my previous one used a lot of coal to generate my electricity. I support entrepreneurs in upcoming economies by lending via crowdfundingplatform www.lendahand.com. I have invested in Waka Waka via geldvoorelkaar.nl. I could go on…

The point is that these are all not “geiten-wollen-sokken companies”, but very modern and inspirational social enterprises with great people working there. They also value you personally as a consumer as the appreciation received in my mail today shows.

Let us thus vote with our wallets and buy more from social enterprises. We will see a wave of social impact happening, the world will be a much better place. Traditional companies will follow where the money is, the change will be fundamental.

To quote Gandhi, “be the change you wish to see in the world”.