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A growing number of consumers around the world are becoming increasingly diligent when it comes to the companies they support with their purchases.
These shoppers are looking beyond the products they buy, finding out more about the brands who created them, and how socially-savvy they are.
In tandem with growing consumer interest in conscious companies, a new breed of vegan entrepreneur is looking beyond the bottom line of business, choosing to focus on how to benefit the planet, our fellow humans, and animals.
A major part of being socially-conscious is designating a percentage of profits to good causes. Vanita Bagri is the Founder and CEO at LaBante London, a vegan-certified brand producing luxury handbags and sunglasses.
She told Plant Based News: “10 percent of our profits go to charity, because we like to promote a culture of giving, wherever we can. We give to organizations that promote ideologies we believe in – for example, PETA is an activist organization that works towards animal welfare worldwide.
“So we give back to them. We think it’s important to support these charities as they run largely with funding from supporters When we started LaBante we became a PETA-approved Vegan brand right away, so have an affinity with the charity.”
Bagri sees giving back in this way as crucial to supporting the causes she believes in. “Mahatma Gandhi said ‘be the change you want to see in the world,’ we at LaBante London are trying to do our little bit by giving back to do some sort of good,” she said.
“Supporting animal-led charities or humane charities is important to us. Supporting mindfulness charities that help us understand the importance of true success – which is not based on laurels or money – is also important to us so we support the Self Realization fellowship- started by Parmahansa Yognananda.”
This philosophy is greatly at odds with many traditional business mantras, which focus on growth and profits – often at the expense of ethics. But Bagri says giving money away is not a barrier when it comes to building a business.
“It reiterates your foundation as you tend to go back to your roots and what you believe in,” she explained. “I think it strengthens your work ethic and your team, as everyone knows the values of the company and what it stands for.
“Essentially this helps attract the right kind of people to the business. People are aligned with our values, and that helps us grow faster.”
Giving profits to charity is not the only way ethical companies are helping social causes – other brands lend their platforms to fundraise for charitable organizations.
Damien Clarkson and Judy Nadel are Co-founders of Vevolution – an events-focused organization that holds festivals showcasing thought-leaders from the vegan world.
According to the pair: “We fundraise at our events, and raised around £2,000 for charities including Made In Hackney and HeartCure in 2017. It can be tricky to balance building a successful business with trying to give back to good causes, but we felt it was the only way to go.”
These charities, chosen by the couple, both provide extensive outreach services within their local communities. Local Community Food Kitchen Made In Hackney has initiated numerous schemes which help schools and a diverse range of local people access healthy, local plant-based foods, and use them to cook nutritious meals. HeartCure is a vegan organization, advocating for animals and supporting activists.
This kind of action ties into the vision these new entrepreneurs have of business being driven by conscience as well as ambition.
“I think there was a huge change from the way Baby Boombers and Generation X did it,” says Bagri.
“Now the Millennials and Generation Z-ers are more in tune with the environment, and values like ethics and sustainability are real words. These generations are trying to do their best to undo the damage of the previous generations.”