Solving a social problem, without going the nonprofit route

It used to be that people who wanted to solve a social problem — like lack of access to clean water or inadequate housing for the poor — created a charity. Today, many start a company instead.

D.light, a company cofounded by Sam Goldman, who spent four years in the Peace Corps in Benin before earning a master’s degree in business from Stanford University, is an example. Mr. Goldman started D.light with the mission of replacing millions of kerosene lamps now used in poor, rural parts of the world with solar-powered lamps.

Having used kerosene lamps himself while living in Benin, Mr. Goldman learned firsthand of kerosene’s problems — it is expensive, it provides poor light and it is extremely dangerous. When the son of his West African neighbor nearly died after suffering severe burns from spilled kerosene, Mr. Goldman said he realized he wanted to create a venture to solve both the social and economic problems caused by these lamps. His time in Benin also convinced him, he said, that only as a business could a project become large enough to reach the great number of people who use these lamps as their primary source of light.

“We could have done it as a nonprofit over a hundred years, but if we wanted to do it in five or 10 years, then we believed it needed to be fueled by profit,” he said. “That’s the way to grow.” …read more on this at Solving a Social Problem, Without Going the Nonprofit Route – NYTimes.com, published 4 March 2009.

Flickr photo credit: jurvetson

By |2012-01-05T07:14:16+01:00March 9, 2009|Blog, Nonprofits|0 Comments

Small firms resort to freebies and special deals

While the strategy can help lure hesitant customers, high costs run the risk of leaving some companies worse off

Faced with a deepening recession and evaporating sales, an increasing number of small businesses are resorting to a high-risk strategy: costly giveaways and promotions to lure the reluctant consumer.

If the strategies work, these companies could have a powerful weapon in their struggle to weather the economic storm. But if they don’t work, the more vulnerable businesses could find themselves in a bigger financial hole.

“Offering things for free is a very dangerous area to get into” for little-known small companies, because it threatens to establish the brand’s reputation as cheap, says Barbara Apple Sullivan, managing partner at New York communications strategy firm Sullivan & Co. “Clients or prospects [may see] the product as worth what they’re paying” during a promotion, she says.

But, she adds, the promotions can give the companies a shot of finding new customers — something in short supply right now. …more at Small Firms Resort to Freebies and Special Deals – Wall Street Journal, published 2 Feb 2009

Flickr photo credit: mitchiru

By |2012-01-05T06:47:36+01:00February 11, 2009|Blog, Small Business|0 Comments

Churches use novel approaches to attract members

THIS time of year, advertising is filled with religious imagery. But typically, little of it is actually sponsored by religious organizations. That is starting to change as churches seek to take advantage of the seasonal opportunity to communicate with prospective members.

The change comes as anecdotal evidence suggests that the worsening economy may be sending more people to churches, synagogues and other houses of worship as financial setbacks bring some to their knees — at least figuratively.

Denominations like the United Church of Christ have tried advertising before, running campaigns that play on the unexpectedness of encountering a pitch for religion amid more prosaic spiels for soup, soap and soft drinks… read more at Advertising – Churches Use Novel Approaches to Attract Members – NYTimes.com.

Flickr photo credit: wallyg

By |2012-01-05T06:58:54+01:00December 17, 2008|Blog, Marketing|0 Comments
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