Big business doesn’t like change. For too long, profit has been made from the status quo. B1G1 is different, they’re bringing a humanitarian mindset to the world of business…and the results are amazing.
One day in 2007 Masami Sato asked her business mentor Paul Dunn, “What if every time there was business done, something great happened in the world? What if every time a television was sold, someone who cannot see received the gift of sight and every time a cup of coffee was sold, a child gained access to pure life-saving water?”
It took three years from her asking those simple questions to plan and launch B1G1, the organisation that is bringing revolutionary change to the way everyday business is done through the addition of a humanitarian dimension.
It is based on a simple yet compelling idea. A small contribution from every business transaction should flow to organisations dedicated to improving the lot of the unprivileged, threatened and disadvantaged right across the world. That’s the Buy 1 Give 1 creed.
Paul and Masami perceived that B1G1 membership would come primarily from small and medium businesses. Large businesses were already pursuing their own corporate social responsibility initiatives and 90% of businesses are in the SME category.
So that became the primary B1G1 focus and led to it becoming a global movement.
B1G1 set up shop in Singapore because it is more towards the centre of things than Australia where it all started and the government there had the policy to create a “Giving Nation”. The base in Singapore is now a global hub with just eight employees.
They select NGO organisations all over the world that are dedicated to vital humanitarian causes and arrange for B1G1 member businesses to link with them and support their work.
A small amount of money—usually just measured in cents—flows from each transaction made by B1G1 members to their partner organisations. B1G1 ensures that every cent reaches the cause to which it has been dedicated. Its own corporate operations are funded by small membership fees.
Paul stresses that B1G1 partner organisations are subject to rigorous scrutiny prior to acceptance into the B1G1 universe. One wrong choice and the absolute basis of trust which underpins the B1G1 model could be lost.
The innate strength and appeal of B1G1 derives from its capacity to help small and medium businesses experience a fulfilment that only comes from making a huge humanitarian difference to the lives of people in desperate need.
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It is also introducing a timely philosophy that there should be more to business than money and fun. Making the world in which they do business a better place is not only a corporate responsibility but also a source of great reward.
B1G1 members report that their employees find new fulfilment from the realisation they are making a direct contribution to raising the living standards of the underprivileged. They begin to own projects as they appreciate the opportunity to express their humanity.
There is considerable evidence of customers choosing to purchase from B1G1 members. Paul prefers to view that as collateral advantage rather than touting it as a business benefit and he stresses that “we make sure that businesses joining us have the right intent, to become what we call a ‘Giving Business’.”
He is particularly proud of the contribution that B1G1 members and their partners are making to projects like reducing the incidence of slavery in Africa and South-East Asia, bringing regular food and drinking water to children living in desperate circumstances especially in Africa, and raising the quality of life for underprivileged people with disabilities.
It also brings him much joy that many businesses in Australia, the B1G1 birthplace, are members engaged in inspiring projects. For example, every time the Reo Group places a candidate in a job it sends a contribution via B1G1 to help deliver a good education to underprivileged kids in Central Australia where previously none was available—a brilliant Dot.Com.Mob project.
Today Paul is the Chairman of a rapidly growing multi-national organisation with over 2,700 members in 42 countries. Such is the growth potential and momentum of the B1G1 concept he is absolutely confident of gaining 20,000 members by 2022.
B1G1 measures the difference it is making worldwide by the numbers of “impacts” it makes on people’s lives. That figure is now approaching 180,000,000. Even large businesses are beginning to weigh the benefits of joining the programme rather than sticking with their own CSR operations.
Perhaps one day a small portion of every business transaction the world over will go towards making people’s lives better and the world a better place. The people at B1G1 and their worldwide members are lighting the way for that to become a reality in our lifetime.