What do Eva Longoria, social entrepreneurship,and $1 million dollars of funding have in common? The ability to significantly impact social enterprise and perhaps the world’s future.
Longoria was announced as one of three judges in "The Venture" -- Chivas Regal’s search to find and support the most innovative startups from across the world. Alongside judges Joe Huff (Founder of LSTN Sound Co.), Sonal Shah (founding Executive Director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation) and Alexandre Ricard ( Pernod Ricard Chairman and CEO), Longoria will be tasked with dividing a portion of Chivas’ $1 million fund amongst "The Venture" finalists -- inspirational social entrepreneurs who aim to succeed in business while having a positive impact on the lives of others.
“There are so many companies that don’t understand social responsibility and giving back, so when I heard of Chivas The Venture I was intrigued because my life is focused on entrepreneurship and philanthrophy, so this is a personal interest of mine,” Longoria states.
She sees her role on the panel of judges as one of mutual benefit, bringing her research and experiences in entrepreneurial and philanthropic ventures to the event while meeting other promising social entrepreneurs from around the world.
“Using business as a force for good is not only a passion of mine but, really, it’s the only way that we’re going to change the world.”
While your business may not have started out as a social enterprise, that doesn’t mean you can’t add in some elements of social entrepreneurship.
Want your business to be more socially conscious? Here are four steps you can take to make social responsibility a priority in your business.
1. Start from within.
Examine your processes, the inputs, and the outputs. Are you sourcing from fair labor areas? Do you use sustainable products? Can you create a point-of-purchase opportunity where a percentage goes to a cause that is authentic to your program and brand? A great example of this is Tom’s. You buy a pair of shoes, and a pair of shoes is provided for a child in need.
“Tom’s is a great example of a business build with social responsibility in mind from the onset,” Longoria states, “To create a full-circle social business plan, social consciousness needs to be in the DNA of your company.”
2. Think local, impact global.
Although your business may physically exist in and you may serve a local community, your impacts can go far beyond. A product, process, system or service you create can perhaps solve an issue in another community. One of the most exciting aspects of being asked to judge, states Longoria, is the ability to see how a product created with one community in mind can impact so many other areas.
“Many people talk about the global economy but it’s really the global community. You may be in South Dakota, but your neighbor could be as close as China in a global world.”
3. Insert social elements into your process.
Finalist Jaco Gerrits of CrashDetch from South Africa shares, “I’ve always loved the idea that entrepreneurship and business can be used as a force for good. As an entrepreneur I’m continuously on the lookout for how to solve problems in new and unique ways. There are few things as rewarding as the ability to positively contribute to the lives of others, whilst doing what you love.”
Look at your processes and see where you could shift responsibilities or open opportunities. Longoria shared the example of a lingerie company in Venezuela that outsources the finishing touches on pieces, such as beading and embroidery, to women in impoverished areas. This creates jobs -- a sign of a functioning economy -- and provides opportunities for others through paying a fair wage and bettering the surrounding communities in which the company operates.
4. Know your purpose, your why.
“I get what you make, but why are you making it? And who are you making it for? Those are simple but big questions,” Longoria says.
Citing Simon Sinek’s TED talk “Start with Why”, she adds “Like Sinek mentions, it’s not just what you make, or how you make it, but why you make it that matters. The why is your purpose and is a huge driver of social entrepreneurship and social consciousness.”
This why often involves an outside-in approach.
Related: 5 Social Entrepreneurship Essentials
Finalist Oscar Andres Mendez Gerardino, Columbia, Conceptos Plasticos S.A.S. agrees. “To create a social enterprise you need to think about other people, understand their situation and understand that ‘what isn’t good for you, isn’t good for anyone’.”
Connecting the dots.
Social entrepreneurship doesn’t happen in isolation. Bringing these challenges, processes and ideas to the forefront is how we create more meaningful and lasting impacts. Longoria is honored to be a part of this space and be a champion social entrepreneurial ventures.
“The great thing about this experience is that it’s really connecting the dots. It’s exciting to be a part of giving people the platform to share their ideas and in doing so the ideas being shared will help others think about and tackle a range of social issues. As a judge I’m really just one of the many dots that is being connected.”
If you want to see how 27 finalists from around the world present their ideas, receive feedback from judges, and pitch their plans for a piece of the $1 million in funding, follow the show at TheVenture.com where you can vote for your favorite social enterprise from now until June 13.