Changemaker – A way of doing business

 

“Small is human and sustainable.” wrote economist E.F. Schumacher in his Study of Economics As if People Mattered in the 1970s. Was that really so long time ago?

Visit to Changemaker in Basel

Visit to Changemaker in Basel

It does sound nowadays idealistic and romantic to go into a café and expect the waiter or owner to call me by name. A generation ago it was normal to get groceries from the local shop named after the owner, and they knew all their customers by name. These relationships have blown away with the winds of change.

If I look around me, objects speak to me. At work or at home, we are in relationship with all our possessions; it is our choice whether to nurture deep or superficial connections.

At our September PWG women entrepreneurs meeting, we were introduced to the Changemaker shop by the managing director, Susanne Schmid. We wanted to understand how they run a social entreprise with several shops in Switzerland efficiently.

The Changemaker shop is a small but growing profit oriented company and a social impact business as well. They sell small scale fashion and modern handmade products from organisations taking care of physically, mentally or psychologically handicapped, abused women and victims of domestic violence.

These items come from all around the world including Nepal, India and Europe. They are bought at a fair price to sustain the producers health, wellbeing and welfare, and are sold at a fair price. Everyone wins.

The shop manager and employees know the stories of all the products and organisations that the items come from. It is as if I already know the person who made the soap, handbag, mug or iphone cover. The items are modern and fashionable, besides helping someone in need. I am buying a chic product with an authentic personal brand.

Small scale is cool. I made my choice many years ago.

Craftsmanship, human relationships and environment can come together in a sustainable, even profitable and yet global way. We can decide to be idealists, and can recycle, reduce and reuse.

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