A Non-Profit Society that teaches entrepreneurship? At first, to some that may seem like two opposing ideas. I mean, isn’t entrepreneurship about making money? Making a Profit? And non profits are about doing good, selfless actions trying to raise money and making non for themselves? After all, a non profit is exactly that. No Profit.

Well, things have changed since I was in school trying to learn and decide what I wanted to do when I grew up.

I can still remember conversations with friends and my mom on the topic of what direction we could go in and what fields to study. Anytime someone would say, “I want to work with kids” or “I want to work with animals” or “I want to save the planet,” parents including my mother would roll their eyes (and still do) and say, “you can’t make money doing that.” Helping third world countries or working to do good in the world had this perspective that you had to make a trade off. Either you can do good things for the world and your fellow man, or you can make money.

That societal mantra became ingrained in many of us and back then, it was kind of true. Working for non-profits or charities, even now, pay below many for-profit business roles of a similar title and responsibility.

Before I go on, I want to say that non profits and charities and the people who work with them are incredible and do great things for communities and the world. But that’s not where I’m going with this.

The last generation entering the work force has opened our eyes up to an alternative to both which has carried over into consumerism and I believe it is here to stay.

Social Entrepreneurship is the new wave of building a business. Outside of innovation of products and services, businesses are now being designed around their contribution to what matters to them most.

For example, there are many shoe companies out there, tons! When Tom’s Shoes first launched, they said, we want to help those who don’t have shoes. So if you buy shoes from us, we will donate a pair of shoes to those in need. Now, Tom’s Shoes give prescription glasses and eye surgery, provide water sanitation, medical training and supplies to help expecting mothers, and so much more. They still make money, they make a great product, but they do good and it is not about just writing a cheque and walking away. They are taking action.

10 Tree is the same way. They are a T-shirt, hat and apparel company with beautiful quality products. Why did they start? Because they have a passion for the environment. Buy any item in a store or online and you will get a tag that allows you to choose where you want 10 trees to be planted. Incredible!

Those are just 2 of my favourites but there are many more such as Lush Cosmetics or products like Final Straw and the list goes on.

Whether the businesses match sales or purchases, or they create products that help in a positive way to bettering the world in these traditionally “no money” industries, these are all for-profit businesses who started because they wanted to make a difference in the world in some way.

So how are they making a difference? Just ask them. Because their initiatives matter, they track their impact.

– 10 tree have planted over 21 million trees

– Lush has kept way over 15 million shampoo bottles alone out of landfills

– Toms Shoes has:

o  given over 75 million shoes

o given sight back to over 500,000 people

o created 450,000 weeks of safe drinking water

o provided safe birthing services for over 175,000 mothers

o And to add to that, they help to start up companies like them get launched with a social entrepreneurship fund

Did I mention they all still make money?

So, to my mom and everyone else who perhaps still thinks that doing good means to sacrifice, I hope that this and a little extra research will help to change that point of view, as well as your consumer spending habits.