How to Run a Business that also Gives Back
I’d like to think that I care about others, that I care about the world. But most of the time, I’m in my own world and am a bit more egocentric than I’d like to believe about myself.
Life is generally kind to me. I’m not worried about where I’ll sleep. I don’t worry about war front and center in my life. I don’t worry about being able to acquire food for my family. I don’t worry about whether I’ll be able to educate my son. I don’t worry about walking my dog in the evening. I’m alert but not worried about my personal safety on the whole. While money might be tight from time to time, it’s really a matter of perspective. I have the privilege of making choices like, “oh should I buy this shirt at the mall or should I just buy it online?”
If you’re anything like me, you feel grateful for the things you have, but often feel like you’re wanting “more.”
Video credit: Oh Yes Communications
I wanted to share something with you that’s really close to my heart.
I’ve always wanted to help people. I know I’m not unique in that. I have a little bit of a bleeding heart for certain causes. It has always caused me anguish when I read about sexism, child slavery, sex trafficking, or child brides. It also made me feel helpless, like I couldn’t do anything to contribute to such a huge cause. I became a Social Worker because I hoped to make a small impact, to change a few lives through the work I did. My path has shifted a bit, but I’m hoping to make an impact in other ways.
When I started Reina + Co, I knew that the + Co was about the community. It is my clients, it’s you, who’s reading this, it’s the woman who needs a little bit of encouragement, it’s the global community. It was my way of saying, we can take care of one another and that you can sit with me.
If you’re reading this, you’re already advantaged, part of the “lucky ones” who have been granted an education in safety. Despite our daily struggles and challenges, we have a lot to be thankful for. We’re empowered to run businesses; we’re able to take care of our basic needs; we’re able to love freely; we’re able to get a quality education that will help us progress in our careers, ultimately opening up more opportunities.
Education, however isn’t guaranteed for millions of people across the globe.
250 million children of primary education age lack basic reading, writing, and math skills (Source: Pencils of Promise 2015 Annual Report) and 1 in 3 children in the developing world are illiterate.
It’s staggering. If you think about it, that’s like saying 30% of the kiddos in the US wouldn’t be able to read. If you know three kids, one of them wouldn’t have the opportunity to have an education.
I’m a lifelong learner. Learning satisfies a curious craving within me. I can’t imagine what life would be like if I wasn’t allowed or wasn’t able to have an education. I might have found other opportunities in life, but I certainly wouldn’t have Reina + Co, I wouldn’t be working with amazing entrepreneurs like you, and I wouldn’t be writing this. I am lucky to get to do the work I LOVE. I get to work with incredible clients. I feel so grateful every day to run this business.
In April 2016, I made a commitment to shortening my timeline on my goal I had on the “life bucketlist” which was to build a school with Pencils of Promise in Latin America. By December of 2018 we will have raised $35,000 USD to fund the building of a school.
Even though this business is named after me, it was never meant to just be for me and for my benefit. I’ve always wanted to run it as a for-profit, for-purpose organization. The more I can earn, the more I can ultimately give back.
Every client that comes through the Reina + Co doors invests not only in my business, they also invest in the dreams of children. If you’re curious about how you can help with the Reina + Co school with Pencils of Promise, I’d love to hear from you! I’ve collaborated with Freckles Design Studio on a product to raise funds for it and have other fun ideas in the works!
Instead of feeling bad for having #firstworldproblems, I want to encourage you to make what you need, keep some of what you want, then give away the rest. I’ve built giving back into my business and no matter how small or how big your revenue is, you’ll give back the same percentage.
If you’ve ever considered giving back (not just when they ask you at the grocery store check-out), on your own terms, make it part of your business plan.
I’d recommend, checking out a fantastic business and life book, Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person can Create Extraordinary Change, that’s written by Pencils of Promise’s founder, Adam Braun.
You can read the rest of Pencil of Promise’s 2015 Annual Report here!
See the latest on my Pencils of Promise status here!