This is part two of “Pizza, Beer & Stock Options Don’t Cut It Anymore: Technologists and Social Entrepreneurs” - part I is here.
In my role with Ethicodes I’m designing a mobile game-type app for ethical and sustainable consumption. In my professional life, I’ve been a designer and programmer for web and mobile. That means I have the unique experience of having been on both the management / programmer table. The work I do for Ethicodes can’t be done alone, and I’ll admit, there are (many) elements of programming that are better left to the specialists. In my juggling of these two worlds, I’ve come across the paradox of social enterprise technology. Most often it comes down to money, understanding and respect. Here’s some advice from both sides of the table.
Part II: Tips for Developers
Just like last time, I’d love to hear from other management / developers about experiences, tips, and frustrations in the comments.
Gabe Scelta is the Innovation Director at Ethicodes and Research Associate at the Ethiopian Global Initiative. A fellow at the Emerge Venture Lab, Gabe’s deep knowledge of the technology industry keeps Ethicodes pushing the frontiers of the fair trade industry. He holds a master’s degree from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and a bachelor’s degree from Boston University. He lives in New York City.
While we are up to our ears in data that says that consumers will pay a premium for ethical products and that the majority consider ethical factors in their purchase decision making, the still sliver sized penetration that ethical products (such as fair trade, organic, post-recycled packaging etc.) have achieved in conventional markets suggests otherwise. It’s time to face the fact that consumers skew themselves greener or more ethical than their actual purchase decisions belie in these surveys. So what can we do to spur not just ethical attitudes, but ethical purchasing behavior?
Dara O’Rourke of The Good Guide says a lot in this article about the complexities of ethical consumption. He breaks down the barriers that the modern consumer has to adopting ethical consumption like this:
1. Habitual purchasing
2. Sophisticated marketing by conventional producers
3. Lack of good information to make an ethical choice
This is a great place to start. There are many entrepreneurs and start-ups trying to solve this problem right now — but which ones will be able to come up with really great solutions to these barriers remains to be seen.
Over the next several weeks, I will be reviewing different start-ups within this framework: which of these barriers are they addressing and how well. At the end of these reviews, it will be interesting to draw out any themes that will reveal the trends, strengths of and opportunities in the world of social entrepreneurship focused on ethical consumerism today.
If you know of a start-up that you would like to see reviewed let me know.
Maria Konizeski is a Business Strategist specializing in consulting for social ventures and digital initiatives brings a wealth of insight into both the competitive advantages and challenges of the social start-up and the current state of the digital market.