The term “Triple Bottom Line” (TBL) is being heard more and more often, but what does it actually mean? According to Wikipedia, it is: “An accounting framework with three parts: social, environmental (or ecological) and financial. Many organisations have adopted the TBL framework to evaluate their performance in a broader perspective to create greater business value.”
For us, in line with the definition of a social, environmental and financial framework we like also to think of TBL in terms of:
- Planet, and
Urban Revitalisation Strategist, Majora Carter, (who we featured last month) encapsulates the TBL or three P’s well by saying: “A sustainable, community friendly development can still make a fortune.” In other words, it’s possible to create and run a successful business that benefits society, and /or the environment, or both.
The TBL can be achieved by fresh ways of thinking; new sustainable ways to uplift communities, the environment and have a thriving business. The idea of the TBL should also be a source of inspiration to South African entrepreneurs seeking to make a difference and be successful.
In this article we look at several businesses who have either arrived, or on their way to being a successful in the TBL arena, plus some incentivising facts about why TBL brands are capturing the hearts of the young adult “spend” in South Africa.
“Thrift is of great revenue.” Marcus Tullius Cicero
With a name like that, what’s not to love? Founded in Cape Town in 2006, Mpodumo Doubada’s second hand book business is now helping out students all over South Africa, as well as selling online. This is a great example of how filling a gap in the market can do good and be good business at the same time.
This service is interesting in that it loans money to people and businesses for “transforming every day into a green, eco-friendly life.” They also have an Ambassadors Programme, which is basically a loyalty programme where their customers are rewarded when they refer new clients to the business. Focusing on giving loans to people who want to “go green”, is a unique business initiative.
“If we start supporting each other and we believe in ourselves, other people will start believing in us as well.” Juanita van der Merwe, owner of Little Green Number
This thriving company prides itself in putting job creation first, via a community based manufacturing ownership franchise. Their products are made from recycled billboards and are designed in unusual and creative ways. So, an amazing upcycled product, 100% handmade, durable and weather resistant which is creating work in the community, what a great idea for a business!
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
This Western Cape based business is all about awareness of biosocial welfare through ecologically indigenous gardening. They focus on different areas of education including, Sponsored Outreach Gardening – which is about Community re-vegetation projects on the Cape Flats – and Conservation Education, focusing on Giving LIFE Workshops to educate people on how to sustain their natural environment.
“Be a yardstick of quality.” Steve Jobs
Banker turned fitness entrepreneur, Tumi Phake, already has 10 gyms across South Africa that focus on wellness. Their brand ethos is positive; “This is what we love to do, and we think you’ll love working on it with us.” Their business model is proving successful because they fill a gap in the market for excellence in fitness, making their clients feel comfortable and cared for 24/7.
“What we need to do is always lean into the future…” Jeff Bezos
The International Energy Association estimates that sub-Saharan Africa will need an additional US$450bn in power sector investments by 2040, so Green Tower Technology’s energy-efficient and off-grid solutions-based business model is a certainly a sustainable one. Their vision is bold and inspiring: “We aim to remove 1 million electric boilers from the grid over the next 10 years saving 4.5 million tons of Green House Gas annually.”
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln
In their own words, “What began as an effort to reduce waste timber volume so as to cut down on trips to the dumping site, finally resulted in the birth of a new industry.” Creating a profitable business out of disposing of leftover wood is a great example of a business that ticks the People, Planet, Profit boxes. They’re also one of the potential winners in SME’s Entrepreneur Of The Year Competition.
Who Buys in to Triple Bottom Line?
“Township youth are responsible and culturally and spiritually active.” Kasi Star Brands
An article published by Adcomm, makes compelling reading for anyone thinking of starting a business. Our youth market is made up of 29 million consumers, who have 55% of the overall spending power. They now have more sway in the spending arena than ever before. In addition to this, 20% of young adults between 24-34 years old are making key household purchasing decisions.
How does this tie in to the Triple Bottom Line? Well, the younger generation spend is becoming inherently linked to what a brand represents over and above its physical value. The youth are making purchasing decisions in favour of brands they feel an allegiance to. As Adcomm reports: “The youth support brands that stand for something more than bottom line, 37% will pay more for a brand that supports a cause they believe in.”
“In the long term, social and environmental issues become financial issues.” President and CEO of Novo Nordisk, Lars Rebien Sørensen
We hope aiming for the Triple Bottom Line encourages South African entrepreneurs to explore innovative ways to help our society and environment grow stronger and more sustainable, with the aim of turning a profit while doing good business. Plus there’s already a large (and growing) support behind local small businesses. What are you waiting for?
Matoyana is passionate about creating and supporting sustainable entrepreneurs on the African continent. Since 2013 Matoyana has interacted with over 1000 entrepreneurs though various projects and initiatives. We provide personalised support which is tailored to meet our client’s business needs.
The Small Business Handbook is a resource tool which the business owner and aspiring entrepreneur can refer to for ideas on how to address issues in business. Be it how to create an ethical business environment, through to understanding different business (revenue) model strategies.
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