Madina Katter

For a long time, commercial companies and organisations working for social good were seen as two different animals. This was predisposed by the mercantile exchange of capitalism, aimed toward the maximisation of self-interested profit. It implicitly defined other forms of exchange, such as cultural and social, as non-economical, and thus disregarded them. As many global issues are byproducts of capitalism and a lack of generational thinking, there is an increasing societal expectation that companies should take a substantial role in addressing them.

Commonly, governments are expected to be the first to tackle those problems and lead the mindset shift in communities. The reality shows that governments rarely succeed due to their institutional nature and lack of flexibility. Com­panies, on the contrary, inherently possess the resources and capabilities needed to tackle societal issues that initially seem insurmountable. Core competencies of any business include the ability to decompose the problem, conduct an analysis of root causes, empower talented people with the tools they need to achieve the goals, and come up with a plan to quickly test the model. As the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of engagement, corporate involvement becomes crucially important. Social issues have to be addressed through a collective engagement of government, corporates and wider society – not a single party can do it alone.

The road to socially responsible business models is not easy, as founders have to take into account the interest of investors which are expecting the highest possible return. Additio­nally, globalisation increases fierce competition, which puts businesses into even more pressure to focus on profitability. This makes allocating resources to projects that do not generate quar­terly returns less feasible.

However, when extra bene­fits for society and financial objectives are merged into a fundamental cor­porate strategy rather than just aligning philanthropy with business objectives, resolving a social issue can bring value for a company in the form of additionally generated profit. The development
of such win-win models requires a proactive mind­set and non-traditional business planning cycles. At the same time it can reward a company with benefits that might be even harder to attain than financial gains.

Working on social problems gives an entity a sense of purpose that goes beyond just occasional philanthropy. When you feel that your business is not just improving someone’s life by 5%, but dramatically increases the life quality, it gives you an endless motivation to strive for more. This rewards companies with truly motivated teams that believe they are making an impact. Companies that work for social good have more chances to earn credits of external stakeholders, too. As the social image of your venture elevates, not only media outlets but also potential customers, investors, suppliers and other business partners become more and more interested in what you are up to, giving your company an overall boost in attractiveness and trustworthiness.

Als Russland seine Invasion in die Ukraine startete, kündigte Madina Katter kurzerhand ihren Job und gründete ihr Start-up Bulletproof Ukraine, das kugelsichere Westen für ukrainische Soldaten herstellt. Finanziert wird das Unternehmen durch Spenden.

Text: Madina Katter
Illustration: Valentin Berger

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