Entrepreneur Word: Andreas Freund

Andreas Freund, Founder & CEO, DiveIn

1790: “Why does it seem that Millennials are more engaged in creating viable and dynamic socially good businesses? Why is this important to the country?”

Although it’s always hard to generalize and I want to be clear that I can’t speak for everyone, I believe that socially responsible for-profit businesses are an incredible development in the U.S.—and we’re only beginning to see and feel their positive effects. Look no further than the ads aired during the last Super Bowl, if you want an example of how companies are starting to push their altruism (real or perceived) to informed consumers and millennials who have grown weary of corporate malfeasance. I think it all begins with increased access to information and merely understanding the power of being an informed consumer. Being picky about the kinds of companies you give your money to can lead to some significant change. #Grabyourwallet is an excellent example of an organization that helps folks decide which companies they should consider avoiding and which to support.

A lot of my generation, through the internet and other mediums, have also come to understand the gravity of some of the humanitarian, social, and environmental problems caused by “bad actors.” For example, the recession and college debt have contributed to many millennials realizing that how we’re doing things in this country right now is just not sustainable. Call us naive, but our generation believes that we can change the world.

Eighty-nine percent of millennials are more likely to buy from companies that support solutions to specific social issues, and 83% of millennials agree that there is too much power concentrated in the hands of a few big corporations. As a result, many of my peers are working for or starting companies that have favorable social impact policies. I’ve seen some incredible businesses such as Emote, My90, and Amour Vert to name a few, that are doing their best to tackle significant issues.

At my company, DiveIn, we’re connecting passionate people with shared values to each other and making it easier for our members to get involved with worthy causes at the local level. DiveIn is but one of many companies and organizations that are actively engaging my generation to get involved in their communities today—instead of upon retirement thirty years from now.

Millennials will soon make up the bulk of the workforce in this country, and I’m hopeful that this trend of young founders starting socially-conscious companies will lead to a lot of good for our country. Nothing will happen overnight, and I do not doubt that there will be a ton of mistakes, debate, and scrutiny around the impact these companies are having. But that’s good!

Transparency should be at the heart of any business, but it’s even more critical for firms that are trying to fix systemic issues and make money. A high level of scrutiny is going to be crucial if we want to walk-the-talk and avoid oversaturation of “feel-good” companies who don’t get results. We’re in the midst of a 40-year low in new businesses creation, and small-medium sized corporations produce the bulk of new jobs in the country. That’s all to say that we need change and there’s no reason to wait. I’m hopeful that we’re going to see a lot more great companies coming out that are making a positive impact on our world—and, of equal importance, are sustainable, lucrative businesses.

 


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