Across the world, few groups of people are better at solving problems than entrepreneurs. When we see a gap in the market, a chink in our profit margin, or a great idea not yet fully realised, we dedicate ourselves to making it better with grit and passion, and much of the time, we succeed.
This ability makes us better, makes our business better. But what if there was a way to use it to make the world better? A way to end serious issues that weigh on the backs of millions of people every day?
The thought is likely to give many of us pause, and with good reason. Making a donation to the right charity can go a long way, but throwing money alone at a problem won’t put so much as a dent in it. We know this.
What’s just as important to people struggling with poverty, disease, hunger and thirst is opportunity. And that’s something we can offer without spending a single cent.
Salah Boukadoum is the CEO of Good Returns, a Dallas-based social enterprise developing scalable and sustainable solutions to major issues on a global scale. It’s an endeavour often misinterpreted as being driven by the kindness in Boukadoum’s heart. Of course, kindness plays a part, but to be kind is not his goal. As he explains on his blog:
“A friend of mine recently told me about a conversation she had with a business leader about Impact City, my vision for transforming Dallas into the center of the world for solving the world’s greatest problems.
She told him about Impact City like this: ‘You have to meet my friend Salah. He wants to make Dallas the nonprofit capital of the world!’
My heart sank. That is the last thing I want to do to our great city! I want to transform Dallas into the impact capital of the world. There’s nothing nonprofit about impact.”
What Boukadoum and Good Returns are doing is promoting the evolution of traditional business financing structures to allow profits to impact more than a bank balance.
What they do is this:
Companies involved fund themselves however they so choose, but instead of the profits being returned to investors or the business immediately, they are provided to Good Returns. In turn, Good Returns provides zero-interest loans to Impact Organisations – for-profit, for-purpose social enterprises established within the communities they are supporting. These loans are fully backed, meaning there’s no risk of lost investment.
At the end of each financial year, the value of the loan is returned, and the company receives their outlaid profits in full, knowing that the initial injection of funds has made an impact. What they do with the money from there is up to them.
Similar loans can also be provided to individuals looking to establish their own businesses, and so not just offer support to recipients, but to provide the means to make them self-sufficient.
You’ve heard us say it before: entrepreneurs, not governments, will change the world. It is systems like Good Returns’ that have the ability to create the kind of change old ways of thinking have failed to do, and they will do so without letting a single dollar go to waste.