What It Takes to Lead a Business with Social Purpose

E-Rewards and Give Something Back Office Supplies (GSB)are shining examples of competitive businesses that are doing business with purpose to change lives. At the 2013 Business4Better Conference, Kurt Knapton, CEO of E-Rewards, and Mike Hannigan, President of Give Something Back Office Supplies, shared their personal journey to create successful businesses that have a larger social purpose.

Mike Hannigan (GSB), Kurt Knapton (e-Rewards), Sophie Faris (B Lab)

“I am capitalist first”, spouts Knapton.  “While do social good is important, you need to have the business experience to compete at a very high level”.  Knapton leads E-Rewards, a fast-growing B2B research company that organizes survey panels made of up 6.5 million consumers in more than 40 countries. Knapton was inspired by doing something bigger and better.  He refers to Peter Drucker, father of modern management, who states that the business bottom line is measured both by business value and changing lives.  E-Rewards is a for profit company who now is offering its consumers options in the form of both extrinsic rewards/gifts and intrinsic rewards.  The intrinsic rewards are fulfilled through Kiva where survey takers can transfer their reward to microfinance loans.  The result is $250,000 in loans impacting 11,000 people in just a few short months. Continue reading

Beyond Cash: When Giving is Good Business

In these tough economic times, when companies are already pinching pennies, finding the funds for corporate giving can be difficult. But donations don’t have to come in the form of dollars, as one company has discovered.

Give Something Back (GSB), a commercial office products company based in Oakland, Calif., has a unique business model.

Like Staples and Office Depot, the company sells supplies such as paper, pens, and staplers, but unlike its competitors, GSB doesn’t distribute its earnings to owners or shareholders. Continue reading