Wharton Social Impact Fellow Petra Nichols spent a portion of her summer fellowship in the studio with us, tuning in to a live recording of “Dollars and Change,” SiriusXM’s only show devoted to social impact and business. Listeners can hear WSII on the radio every Thursday morning from 8-10 a.m. ET, or streaming online all week. Here, she shares her takeaways from our recording on July 16.
We often envision business and the public welfare as mutually exclusive, because how could business benefit the very people and resources it exploits?
To challenge this view, this week on Sirius XM’s “Dollars and Change” hosts Katherine Klein and Jacob Gray interviewed four diverse guests who use their businesses to make the world a better place.
By tapping into their passions and expertise in fishing, forestry, conscious capitalism, and volunteering, the guests use innovative business practices to fill their sector’s needs while maintaining a steady profit.
Jeff Cherry, Founder and Executive Director of Conscious Venture Lab, kicked off the first segment by sharing his ideology of conscious capitalism. He claims, “the most successful companies are those whose employees care about the mission and don’t feel servile to their clients,” but instead, “engage their stakeholders.”
Cherry rejects Milton Friedman’s view that a company’s sole mission is to make money for its shareholders, and instead espouses firms like Whole Foods whose new venture provides accessibility to low-income customers while maintaining profitability. Cherry’s accelerator Conscious Venture Lab offers expertise and a budding venture fund to entrepreneurs sharing this ideology. The accelerator has faced hurdles in entrepreneurs who solely sought funding without social impact. However, Cherry’s concludes that, “Most entrepreneurs don’t start companies with the purpose of solely making a lot of money – they see something wrong, see an injustice, and want to fix it.”
The next segment featured Mark Horoszowski, Co-Founder and CEO of MovingWorlds.org, which facilitates an innovative form of volunteering, called “experteering”. By providing professional services and expertise to NGOs and social entrepreneurs abroad, “experteers” volunteer their time meaningfully.
Who are typical “experteers”, you ask? They are generally top performers in their field, often consultants, whose firms are willing to invest in 1-3 weeks of leadership development and international experience for the price of a conference. These volunteers provide high impact in a very short amount of time, by reworking an M&E strategy or filling an accounting “talent gap”. Horoszowski touts the continued growth of MovingWorlds.org by matching NGOs in need abroad to “experteers” looking for professional development, travel, and a chance to make a difference.
The third guest, the CEO of Sustainable Forest Foundation, personally owns forest, so he understands the stewardship requirements of responsible forest ownership. Tom Martin believes, “market forces are a force for good for forests.”
In short, a better market for forest products like paper and construction materials means more forests. The Sustainable Forest Foundation targets small family forest owners, who own 37% of our nation’s forests. Martin emphasizes that the foundation approaches forest owners as individuals in explaining possible risks and rewards for owning their forests. Through targeted education efforts and public-private partnerships, the Sustainable Forest Foundation effects change in at-risk areas like the Colorado Watershed to protect our nation’s woodlands.
Monica Jain is the Executive Director of Fish 2.0 and Manta Consulting, Inc., as well as a Wharton alum! Her segment focused on Fish 2.0, a competition that connects investors and entrepreneurs in the sustainable fishing space. Fish 2.0 is already halfway through its second cycle of 130 start-up businesses and various investors. Jain’s favorite creative entries so far have been submissions ranging from aquaculture on rooftops to fresh fish vending machines in Japan.
She says, “Environmentalists thought they could never work with business,” to maintain sustainable fish populations, but now the sustainable fishing sector covers both priorities.
This show covered the ocean, forests, venture capital, and volunteering abroad. As distinct as these four enterprises may sound, the guests share a mission to direct market forces towards the greater good, through their individual passions.
By incorporating business strategy into their field of interest, all are able to address pain points and solve them.
In Jeff Cherry’s words, “[entrepreneurs] see something wrong, see an injustice, and want to fix it.”
Petra Nichols, C’16, is a rising senior majoring in International Relations and Hispanic Studies at Penn. As an Investing in Women Fellow at WSII, she researches ways that impact investing furthers development by focusing on women’s empowerment.