By: Ashley Riggs, 36 Degrees North Intern
Right now, businesses tied to specific causes are booming, and giving back is becoming a key way to attract new customers.
I recently attended an event at 36 Degrees North called Social Enterprise in Tulsa: A Pathway to Impact. The panelists shared great insight on how to use businesses (both for-profit and non-profit) to serve a community. Here were my biggest takeaways:
#1 Make it easy to give to your cause– People love giving, but let’s face it- people are much more likely to give when it’s convenient. Connecting a product that people already want or need to your cause is an easy way to gain both awareness and support. For instance, Take 2 Cafe in Downtown Tulsa sells delicious sandwiches, potatoes and pie, all with the mission of helping women caught in the criminal justice system.
#2 Change the conversation– Whichever issue you choose to support, there’s bound to be some sort of stigma around it. Use your business to change that. Wesley Rose of Youth Services Tulsa spoke during the panel about T-Town Tacos, a business that serves up delicious breakfast tacos and teaches job skills to at-risk youth. For the kids involved, this might be the first time someone’s given them a chance. Rose believes that by changing the conversation about underprivileged youth, and showing them in a positive, productive role, the kids will benefit long-term... and so will the community.
#3 Utilize your community– Everyone has a network, a tribe, a squad– tap into yours and rally their support. Everyone on the panel emphasized the importance of using your community to promote your cause, whether that’s through social media or word of mouth.
#4 Showcase local products– Find ways to incorporate local products into your business. Sofia Noshay did this by creating her company Jujuu Box, a subscription box service that delivers fun, unique, Tulsa-made goodies right to your doorstep. Currently, subscription services are all the rage, but this one truly makes a difference. The Jujuu Box provides exposure for early-stage entrepreneurs to help them get their feet off the ground.
All in all, I learned that it’s never too late to start making an impact with your business. Whether it's through tacos, fresh produce or unique treats- or whatever else you happen to sell- entrepreneurs can make a big difference in their communities.