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Approaching Social Responsibility In A Sustainable Manner


The socially conscious movement has grown thanks to socially responsible consumers (like you!). We’re proud to make products that benefit your skin and underserved communities across the world. Growing our business has been even more rewarding knowing we are able to reach even more communities.

 

"WHEN HELPING HURTS"
For years, charity-focused companies have emerged. Even more recently, these charitable efforts have developed into the successful marketing campaign of “buy-one-give-one.” True to the name, this strategy refers to the idea of a company donating one item to those in need for every one item a consumer purchases. This simple approach resonates well with consumers since it serves as an additional motive to make a purchase. Although buy-one-give-one is a profitable approach to generosity, it has long-term detrimental effects on the economies of the nations that receive the donations.

Foreign aid, in general, can provide immediate relief to some of the issues developing countries face, however, it just as easily establishes a culture of dependence that inhibits a country’s ability to build its economy on its own. In even more extreme cases, it inhibits entrepreneurial efforts of locals to create a sustainable living. For example - after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, US NGOs raised money to give away solar panels for free. Unbeknownst to them, a Haitian solar company called Enersa was in the midst of signing a major contract to install solar panels in the same area.

The result? "It's hard to compete with free," said the co-founder of Enersa. They went from selling 50 solar panels a month to selling five in six months. They were almost decimated by the relief effort. At b.a.r.e. soaps, we strive to provide the resources these economies need to become self-sufficient and prosper in the long run. For that reason, we invest our proceeds in projects that help to grow other economies.

 

THINKING LONG TERM

The tricky part with this approach is that we can't always tell you in advance where your proceeds are going towards. Two years ago, a part of our proceeds went towards buying one goat for every child at our Carepoint in Uganda. This project is one of our favorites, and not just because goats are extremely cute creatures. Viral videos of goats frolicking about don’t do the creatures justice. The communities who are gifted goats benefit from their milk production as a source of nutrition and as a good to sell. Goat waste is also a very rich fertilizer with which the community can enrich their vegetation. And the best part? Goats reproduce fairly quickly. More goats, more benefits for the town! Or, goats can be sold for other farming animals to help till the land.

We also look at long term investments in education. Last year, a portion of proceeds were allocated to building a library for the same Carepoint in Uganda. When one of our students was looking to take the entrance exam for the equivalent of university, she was at a loss when she arrived at the test center to find that she had to take the test on a computer. She had never seen a computer before. We work with our partners at Point Community Church and Hopechest to determine the needs of the Carepoint. Money is then deployed to meet those needs.

Our other efforts focus on employment, growth, and sustainability- like Sundara Fund’s soap repurposing project. These projects are typically more consistent- each year we have a good idea of how much we need to allocate to employ the women with fair wages, but sometimes needs also change depending on the environment. We're also always looking for ways to expand that partnership, whether its to hold sanitation workshops or handwashing clinics for children.

THOUGHTFULLY TEACHING A (WO)MAN HOW TO FISH

The point is, while in our day to day lives, we may have budgets to account for recurring costs (such as rent, insurance, groceries, etc), we may still encounter random "needs" that we may not have accounted for. The same is true for non-profit initiatives. While the buy-one-give-one model alleviates pain in the short term and makes it simple for you, as the consumer to know where your money is going to at the time of purchase, when not done properly, it is a simple hand-out. There's an old saying, usually attributed to Confucius, that goes something like "Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you've fed him for a lifetime."



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