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The business of giving - a special Christmas list

brewing co

At Christmas, unless you are Ebeneezer Scroodge or George Osbourne, you will likely be caught up in the joyful spirit of giving.

Around Britain, careful lists are drawn up containing present choices for family and friends, we all spare a few extra coins for Salvation Army bands playing carols in the cold, and pubs and restaurants are filled with office Christmas party-goers enjoying the goodwill of their employers.

A few businesses, however, make it their continuous aim to give out to the wider community. Here are some to inspire you...

In the business of giving

Two Fingers Brewing Co. (pictured) were included in this year’s Small Business Saturday 100 - a select choice of the UK's most innovative small businesses. Comprised of seven men from marketing company Karmarama, they created the beer brand in 2012 after having seen a number of friends suffer from prostate cancer.

They describe the product as ‘the only beer that gives back to the men that drink it,’ and donate all profits made through selling the ale to Prostate Cancer UK.

With similar altruism, accessories designers, Elvis & Kresse, reclaim unique materials and re-distribute up to 50% of the profits made by the products to charities and projects related to them. For example, they use decommissioned fire hoses to make bags, belts, iPhone cases, candle holders, etc. and donate 50% of the profits to the Fire Fighters Charity.

Most people are aware of Divine Chocolate and its trailblazing work in the field of social enterprise. It also happens to be the only Fairtrade company to have its farmers own 45% of the business, allowing them to further invest into their own communities and providing them with a bigger say in the cocoa market.

Pants to Poverty is a company whose ethos battles against  big-business reteilers with poor ethics by supporting farmers, factory workers and launching campaigns.

This is achieved by providing (and promoting) a real living wage programme among their employees, supporting the development of a worker empowerment programme, recruiting sustainable brands to source, procuring their cotton from one village (Lebed in Bhawanipatna, Odisha), supporting and funding farmer owned seed development work and establishment of seed banks, amongst other projects.

The brand has been set up for almost five years, are now selling pants in over 20 countries and are currently supporting over 5,000 farmers in India.

Another kind of profit

Not all business-people thrive on the stereotype of being 'ruthless' - many companies are prepared to give a proportion of their profits away to help others. Whether it’s by way of revitalising the local community or through donating a percentage a month to charity, a majority of businesses do something to help.

According to Donnie Maclurcan and Jennifer Hinton in The Guardian, research has shown that ‘human nature has a tendency towards co-operation.’ They further regard this as being an alteration in the mentality of business owners and entrepreneurs, with ‘the rise of a workforce increasingly motivated by purpose.’

Furthermore, businesses have been seen to triumph in finding innovative ways to give money to charity while managing to make a profit. Often, it is this innovation that propels a company forward and above others in the industry.

The fashion industry, for example, is a notoriously difficult sector for an independent retailer to break into – something that Elvis & Kress have managed to do.

Their idea to use decommissioned fire hoses as materials for bags, belts, etc. not only donates to the Fire Fighters Charity and is environmentally friendly, but also produces a product that is incredibly unique.

There is sustainability in giving back to the community that brings the business to life. Toby Heaps, founder of Corporate Knights (a society magazine celebrating ‘clean capitalism’), believes that sustainability in business means profits for the company resulting in profits to its surroundings.

He says: 'It means creating more wealth than we destroy. It means that a company is on balance increasing our overall stock of wealth, grounded in human, produced, financial, natural, and social capital. Sustainable firms are those doing the best job at creating net wealth–economic, social, and ecological…'

An implementation of philanthropy in business shows a level of commitment to the community, which is often rewarded in loyalty and increased custom.

That's something for all small business owners to reflect on this festive season and beyond.

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