There’s a new generation of entrepreneurs. They see themselves as change-makers, activists building businesses to save the planet. Like Greta Thunberg, they know that time is running out. Fed up with what they see as ‘corporate inertia’, they’re creating breakthrough ‘change-maker business’. 

These change-makers are part of the Sharing Economy, but not the Sharing Economy as we know it.  Until now, the phenomenon which has garnered much media attention since its birth a decade ago has focussed on peer-to-peer, technology driven, VC backed start-ups, but this new breed of ‘changepreneurs’ are not only commercially savvy, but hell bent on delivering social and environmental value too. They know that the companies of the future are those who can become activists and change-makers themselves. 

Take Ruth Anslow, co-founder of Brighton-based rebel supermarket HISBE (How It Should Be) in the UK.  Together with sister Amy and Jack Simmonds they’re reinventing the supermarket experience. “We’ve built an alternative supermarket model through collaboration and caring. We got fed up with the way supermarkets do business, it has a negative effect on people, communities and local economies. We’re about keeping profits in communities and in the hands of the producers”. 

For these changepreneneurs, commercial success only follows social and environmental wins. HISBE broke even in a record-breaking twelve months, six months ahead of their targets. The founders believe this financial success is down to their values and approach. 

Generation Share: The Changepreneurs Saving the Planet

Ruth and Amy Anslow, founders of HISBE rebel supermarket

 “We help a lot of small suppliers get going, we share the profit with them, so out of every pound that gets spent in HISBE, 68p goes to suppliers. The equivalent figure in supermarkets is 9p. If they’re given the right price and the right conditions, they can make the products that contribute to a better food system.” 

The real key to their success is the philosophy that lies at the heart of changepreneurship – the contribution they make to the industry as a whole. ‘Our big vision is to transform the food industry by reinventing the way supermarkets do business”. This, they believe is the biggest lesson for corporations: focus on creating value for the wider sector and society at large and you’ll win. 

Ruth Anslow is one of 200 change-makers I interviewed for my ground-breaking visual book Generation Share. Generation Share is the world’s largest collection of stories of change-makers building a caring, sharing economy; it’s the result of a three-year collaboration with photographer with purpose, Sophie Sheinwald, to bring these positive stories of change-makers to worldwide attention. It comes from a realisation that to change the world, we need to change the narrative and give life and prominence to these positive stories of breakthroughs. 

Digital equality campaigner, Nanjira Sambuli (Kenya)

29-year-old Daan Wedderpohl from Amsterdam embodies what it means to be a breakthrough change-maker. When his house burned to the ground, he lost his home, his belongings and his job, which proved to be the catalyst for creating goods-sharing platform Peerby, because, he says “the stuff we consume is the biggest contributor to our environmental footprint.” 

His bold approach permeates his business approach. “The ultimate goal is that consumer goods will never be designed for one person, but for a community and if goods can be passed from person to person, then the manufacturers will have to create a business model for sustainability, reparability and reuse.” 

Generation Share: The Changepreneurs Saving the Planet

Malik Yakitini, founder of Detroit Black Food Security Network and D-Town Farm (US)

So how can you unleash the change-maker in your business and help power breakthroughs for people and planet?’ First, answer these three all important questions.

  1. What actions are you as a company taking to immediately and directly address climate change?
  2. How are you as a company currently contributing to the wider sustainability of your sector?
  3. What can you do now to put the sharing of resources at the heart of your business model?

With over £3.5 trillion worth of idle resources and enough surplus food to feed 10 billion people worldwide, the true power of the Sharing Economy is becoming evident with activist entrepreneurs like Dan Wedderpohl and Ruth Anslow demonstrating how positive changepreneurship can make a difference.  And, with time not on our side, it’s time to unleash the change-maker in all businesses.

CSW Global 2019

Benita Matofska is speaking at CSW Global 2019 in San Francisco on Day 1 on the Main Stage as part of the Crowd Activation and Social Impact session at 11.25am. Along with Generation Share co-creator Sophie Sheinwald, the pair will later launch Generation Share as part of their world tour at 6.30pm at OnePiece Work.

Some tickets remain available and here is a full agenda. The relatively intimate nature of the conference will enable delegates to network with speakers as well as each other. If an almost unique opportunity to meet with so manyinternational thought-leaders of the sharing economy and crowdsourcing sectors is something you dare not miss then we hope to see you there.

Image credits: Sophie Sheinwald