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When building a business can also be good for society

When launching a new business, having an idea that also does good in the world can be a great starting point.

With more and more consumers making purchasing decisions based on a business's social purpose, sustainable impact, and the ethical standards, entrepreneurs are responding by creating new ventures that seek to live up to those standards.

According to ZDNet Australia editor Chris Duckett, these attributes are becoming more important in the minds of consumers.

"In 2020, a company with good principles is actually using those principles as a selling point," Duckett says. "Consumers that have been given the choice between one product, and a product that maybe more ethically sourced, are going to take the one that has that extra little benefit."

For Ziah Lane, doing good has meant taking a ubiquitous disposable product and making it more sustainable. Her company, No Issue Tissues, makes toilet paper, facial tissues, and other products from eco-friendly bamboo.

She says the idea started as a university project and came from the realisation that in that specific product category, there was no clear brand with a 'cares for the environment' value proposition. She also chose to further differentiate her company by focusing on impeccable design as an additional selling point.

"So that is where we are different," Lane says. "I think we are the household brand of the future, where we care about the environment, and we also care about what the product looks like."

Narelle Anderson – Entrepreneur and DWEN member is also doing her bit for the environment with her business Envirobank, which has created a reward scheme for recycling.

"The Envirobank Rewards program is essentially rewarding consumers for changing their behaviours," Anderson says. "To sum it all up in one sentence, it is recycling that pays."

Consumers who recycle their items through an Envirobank Drop'n'Go pod can either choose to receive a 10 cent refund per item, or convert that to Crunch credits which can be redeemed for offers such as Coles shopping cards, vouchers from THE ICONIC, and Velocity Frequent Flyer Points.

Anderson says the model also helps to educate consumers and build recycling habits, and her company is also able to assist charitable and not-for-profit organisations by facilitating fundraising activities.

"We help those organisations to take the bottles and cans from their network, and then we pay them for them," Anderson says.

While many entrepreneurs are focused on helping the environment, for Peter Scutt, his attention is directed towards supporting some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

His business, Mable, is an online platform that enables older Australians and people with a disability and their family members to connect with independent care and support workers in communities around Australia.

Scutt says that while Mable is having a positive impact on the lives of the people it services, it also generates many stories of how the relationships it fosters are serving to improve people's lives. Sharing these stories has become incredibly important to the people involved. 

"I think it is important that, particularly from a team perspective, when we are doing so much good and we are working so rapidly to evolve and to innovate, that we actually take the time to celebrate the impact we are having on people's lives," Scutt says.

People can use Mable to search for independent support workers in their area, safe in the knowledge they have been independently checked and verified. The company's name comes from a contraction of the phrase 'I'm able to ...' and its website is full of stories of how people have benefitted from the experience of using the platform.

While he is pleased with what he has achieved so far, Scutt says there is still much more to be done.

"I think the impact we can have in terms of improving outcomes for people, we are only at the start of that journey," he says.