Business people aren’t the first people you would think of when it comes to altruism and philanthropy. When people think of entrepreneurs or those in business, they tend to think of these people as individuals who focus on pursuing money, success, and influence.
To a certain degree, that is true. A business can succeed, after all, only if it generates enough income and experiences growth steadily. But this connotation doesn’t account for how companies can also help communities and the economy.
Of course, certain business people are involved in social entrepreneurship, having a business model that helps others as an integral part of the company’s purpose. The idea of helping others with your business, however, isn’t limited to such enterprises.
Whether it be an old family-run shop or a burgeoning tech startup, running a business can help communities in more ways than one.
The most apparent way a business can help a community is by employing its members. Giving people a living wage doesn’t only put food on their tables and roofs above their heads but also gives them a sense of purpose. It empowers them to make decisions for themselves and gives their families an overall sense of hope that things can be better. Even though a business isn’t necessarily a social enterprise, it can commit itself to employ certain members of society, like those with disabilities, the underprivileged, BIPOC, or LGBTQIA+ individuals.
A commercial cleaning franchise business, for example, can be valuable to veterans. Or you can have companies that employ persons with special needs. These businesses exist in various industries, but they find ways to help specific communities.
Employing these individuals not only helps you gain their loyalty but also gain the respect of consumers. That can only mean good things for your business, whether in PR and marketing or generating sales.
Another way that businesses can help communities is by manufacturing a local product. This model takes advantage of an area’s unique resources—something that may not be available anywhere else. Examples of this are agricultural businesses that harvest and export local crops, a fishing business that distributes a species that thrives in the area, or an enterprise that manufactures products from a locally developed handicraft.
The great thing about this is that not only does it boost the local economy, but it also gives the community a sense of pride. It gives everyone a community identity—something that they can boast about where they’re from.
Historically, there have been hundreds of so-called company towns across the United States. These are towns that are founded and owned by corporations. They are built to house employees and their families near the company’s headquarters or factory. Many of these towns no longer stand or have changed in structure, but it’s an interesting example of how a business can not only support a community but also create one.
It’s important to note that local resources must be used sustainably, especially for businesses that rely on natural ones. For instance, some ventures tend to overharvest or overfish, especially if the company is booming. It’s essential to be aware of this because we wouldn’t be helping the community but spelling doom for it instead.
Like the manufacturing of local products, a tourism-based business is also a great way to support a local economy. Many towns are sustained by tourism. It can be a local forest, a nearby beach, a famous monument, or a unique experience that attracts tourists, who bring with them opportunities for various businesses. They can bring with them the market for lodging, food services, and, more importantly, tour guides. After all, there is no better guide to a place than someone who lives there.
Of course, the sudden influx of visitors can be detrimental to a community if it’s not managed correctly. They can introduce unwanted elements like pollution or crime. This is why ecotourism is essential. Local governments should find a way to let guests and visitors enjoy the wonders of their town without damaging the natural resources. Tourism should always go alongside efforts to protect the town’s citizens, the local ecosystem, and historical structures.
As long as the work is honorable and lawful, any business is a good business. Understandably, as entrepreneurs, these individuals might approach their business purely as income-generating endeavors. But if they look at the bigger picture and their businesses’ place in the greater scheme of things, they can learn to appreciate how they help improve the lives of their employees, their consumers, and their families in the community.