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Can the ‘power of we’ change the way we do business?
Last year in Singapore, I met a dynamic entrepreneur seeking to connect his drive for business success, with projects of genuine social value.
We discussed one of his latest projects, bringing smartphones to a silver generation. Like all great business ideas, it was simple and attractive; both financially and socially.
With the average cell phone’s shelf life being less than 18 months, millions of cell phones are discarded every year as consumers trade up to the latest technology. So a new programme, launched in Singapore, asks upgrading consumers if they would like to donate their old phone to a needy senior citizen.
Donated phones are stripped of all the apps and other sophisticated functionality that may seem vital for the modern user, but serve only to frighten and confuse the elderly. The phones are then reloaded with basic, easy to understand functionality and apps relevant to the target, like photo ‘albums’ of their grandchildren or alarm calls that connect to emergency health services. The phones are given free to deserving senior citizens with contracts offered at significantly reduced rates.
For the partnering telecom provider it’s a real win/win situation. The phones were being trashed anyway, so no loss of value there. The contracts may be cheap but they represent additional revenue and profit that they would never have otherwise received from a previously non-existent target market. And perhaps, most valuable of all, they have a wonderful Corporate Social Responsibility story to tell to the world. It’s a brilliant example of social business, ideas created and succeeding because of the drive to satisfy the ‘power of we’.
But that was last year. Why am I thinking about it again now? Well just a few weeks ago, I saw the post-script. The same group have now set out to develop new apps to drive their programme forward and further help senior citizens and as a social venture, they turned to crowdfunding to get it off the ground. Crowdfunding is another fascinating example of how the ‘power of we’, the collective force of individual consumers, is changing the way we do business. Over 700 crowdfunding sites have already been established around the world in the last decade. Ordinary individuals coming together and pooling their resources to fund new business ideas they love and believe in.
The collective power of the consumer continues to march forward. Not just forcing large corporations to place even greater focus on initiatives that offer both financial and social value; but also creating the financial muscle to fund attractive new business ideas that the more conservative establishment may overlook. The ‘power of we’ is slowly but doggedly changing the way we do business.
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