24 April 2017

BUSINESS - For-Profit Companies Created to Impact Social Issues

With millennials being a generation of social innovators, many companies are building social innovation into their business.

There is also a growing number of businesses being created for social innovation - the integration of private capital with public and philanthropic support.

One example is 7 Virtues, a Canadian company created specifically to empower families in countries that are rebuilding.

Inspired by her injured friend’s experience in the military in Afghanistan, founder Barb Stegemann started a perfume company that sourced essential oils from the war-torn country.  

Stegemann read about Abdullah Arsala, owner of a distillery in Jalalabad, Afghanistan who was trying to support his tribe by creating legal crops of orange blossom and rose instead of the poppy crop that accounts for 90% of the world’s heroin supply.

Her company’s mission: Make Perfume Not War. To make rebuilding more exciting than destruction.

Since they began sourcing oils from Afghanistan, they have expanded to also include Haiti and Rwanda.

7 Virtues purchase their organic patchouli essential oil from farming co-operatives in Rwanda so locals can buy school uniforms and build homes for their families.

Another goal of the company is to encourage other businesses to trade with nations that are rebuilding:
“Buy their saffron, buy their soaps, candles, essential oils, buy anything that will empower families to buy books and shoes for their children and take it to market.”

7 Virtues pays fair market value for their oils and does not test on animals.

A documentary - Perfume War - was created that tells the story of Stegemann and the creation of her company, including an appearance on Dragon’s Den and subsequent investment by businessman and philanthropist W. Brett Wilson.

Because millennials are so concerned about social issues such as human rights, racial justice, gender equality, representation and more, it won’t be surprising to see more businesses embrace social innovation or be founded based on the concept.

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