Investing in a social business is a little like donating to a nonprofit, and a little like investing in a for-profit corporation. It takes the best of both worlds while delinking company ownership from personal financial gain and placing all stakeholders on the same playing field.
We call it donations on steroids.
We believe strongly that the way to fix the current problems with research is by applying business methods and practices. We are working with economic systems here, people, and we need economic solutions. The problems have, in large part, been created and exacerbated by business and we need to fix them with business.
So why are we solving these problems with social business instead of conventional for-profit business? Simply because what we’re trying to fix is so fundamental—it’s a social problem. It goes beyond creating a better journal or a cool new product. The problems with research permeate society. Social business, especially as defined by Muhammad Yunus, gives us the best motivational toolset for solving these problems.
Investing in a social business provides no personal financial benefits—the return is purely social. Here’s how it works: if you invest in a social business today, then after ten to twenty years or so you would get your original investment back all the while maintaining your ownership in the company. In other words, if you cared enough about our mission that you wanted to invest in us, you would essentially donate the growth on that investment for a period of time to the mission. At the end of a predetermined amount of time you would get your money back and keep the stock of a company you care about! The stock then would still have voting power, but no personal monetary value.
We often get asked, “Why don’t you become a nonprofit, get a fat grant, and give yourselves a nice salary?” Foundation grants seem like they would be nice, but can introduce a dole-like mentality in an organization. Grants are not sustainable. Dependence on them produces companies that get stuck at fixed sizes. They introduce the wrong incentives. We need to be able to pivot quickly to do whatever would further our mission the most and maximize our social impact in the world. Investors expect greatness and growth from a business and that the job will get done in an efficient, sustainable way. From our point of view, knowing that we need to pay back the investors someday changes company culture.
So why would an investor invest in a social business? There is something that happens to an investor when there is the complete abdication of financial profit. Selfishness and greed leave as the investor’s sole motivation turns from racking up financial profit into a desire to use the company as a tool to make the world a better place. Then the investor becomes part of the team, on the same playing field as everyone else in the world, united in purpose in serving something greater than self.
If you are at all interested in investing in us, please get in touch!