Many of today’s business students are not only focused on innovation but also philanthropy and social responsibility. Mihaylo Center for Entrepreneurship Director John Bradley Jackson discusses the trend toward socially responsible for-profit business models.
In 2002, Blake Mycoskie first visited Argentina while competing in the reality television program “The Amazing Race.” Returning to the South American country in 2006, he was struck by the poverty of the less-fortunate residents of the Buenos Aires area.
Combining his passion for helping others and entrepreneurial innovation, Mycoskie founded Playa del Rey-based TOMS Shoes, an enterprise world-renowned for its socially responsible “one-for-one” model, in which one pair of shoes is given to an impoverished child for each pair they sell to consumers. More than 50 million pairs of shoes have been donated through this program. As the company has grown, it has expanded its philanthropic efforts to include providing optometry care and sustainable drinking water solutions for residents of developing countries and sponsoring the annual One Day Without Shoes event, which raises awareness for the millions of people around the world without adequate footwear.
Giving Feels Good, But It’s Also Good for Business
“Giving feels good, but it’s also good for the bottom line. Charity is a viable growth strategy for a lot of companies,” Mycoskie says. “Our customers get excited to be a part of what we’re doing. If you ask anyone wearing TOMS how they first heard about us, most won’t mention an advertisement; they’ll say a friend told them our story.”