Select A Cause That Fits Your Business
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Chris Grandpre, Chairman and CEO of Outdoor Living Brands, has a few words of advice for social entrepreneurs.
Grandpre earned his chops in consulting and investment banking before leading the formation of Outdoor Living Brands in 2008 with its four franchise concepts, including Mosquito Squad, an outdoor pest control business.
For years, Mosquito Squad has partnered with Malaria No More, a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit working to eradicate malaria.
Martin Edlund is co-founder and CEO of the $14.4 million 2014 revenue nonprofit, Malaria No More. With just 35 people in half a dozen offices scattered around the world, he says, ”Despite our small size, we help to mobilize billions of dollars in global financing for malaria from the US, UK, other global donors, and endemic country sources.”
Edlund says, “Malaria No More was founded by prominent business leaders and takes an innovative approach to solving one of the world’s oldest, deadliest diseases. We galvanize leaders, engage some of the world’s most innovative companies, and have helped to define a model of disease eradication for the 21st century, which we launched last year with Bill Gates.”
The partnership has proven valuable to both organizations.
Chris Grandpre, courtesy of Outdoor Living Brands
Grandpre explains the value of the partnership to his $100 million revenue business. ”While Mosquito Squad ‘fights the bite’ principally as a matter of convenience for our clients across the United States, unfortunately, in other less developed parts of the world a mosquito bite can be a matter of life and death. Aligning Mosquito Squad with Malaria No More, an organization dedicated to eliminating the nearly 500,000 needless deaths from malaria around the world every year, and donating a portion of our revenues to support this effort elevates the purpose of our brand and organization.”
Grandpre adds that growing the business and doing good work together. “We know, based on the demographics and psychographics of our clients, that Mosquito Squad customers prefer to do business with companies that give back to their communities and the world around them.” Supporting Malaria No More also differentiates Mosquito Squad from its competitors, he says.
Grandpre offers three tips for social entrepreneurs.
Tip 1: “Select a Cause that Fits your Business”
He said, “Identifying and embracing a cause that is directly related to your business and to the buying motivations of your customers, will improve the likelihood that it will become part of the organization’s corporate culture and resonate with your customers and [become] a differentiator of your brand.”
Edlund said of the mosquito-borne disease, ”Malaria is one of the oldest, deadliest diseases in human history–yet it’s one of the few scaled diseases that we can eradicate in our lifetime. We’re already making great progress. Malaria deaths among kids in Africa have fallen more than 70 percent, and 6.2 million lives have been saved since 2000.”
Grandpre added, “at Mosquito Squad, we passionately believe that where you happen to be born should not dictate whether you live or die from a mosquito bite.”
He noted that the corporate team and franchisees share a passion for fighting Malaria, in part because it fits the business so well.
Tip 2: Select a Cause that You are Passionate About
Grandpre said, “People want to have a purpose–something more than making money. Fortunately, malaria has essentially been eradicated in the United States, demonstrating that the battle can be won. However, in other parts of the world such as Africa, malaria carries a heavy toll with nearly 500,000 people, largely young children under the age of six, dying every year.”
Edlund added, “We face several serious challenges. Drug-resistant strains of malaria have emerged in Southeast Asia. If it spreads, it could rob us of our life-saving treatments for malaria and create a humanitarian catastrophe. Mosquitoes are also growing resistant to the insecticides used in bed nets. Both challenges require a renewed focus and investment in R&D.”
The threat to young children ”is simply unacceptable when we know that malaria can be defeated in other parts of the world just like it has been here at home. If you can’t get passionate about saving the life of a child before he or she has even had a chance to make their mark on the world, what can you get passionate about?” Grandpre asked.
Tip 3: “Show Leadership from the Top:
Leaders must demonstrate genuine concern for the cause, Grandpre said. ”If social responsibility is just a marketing tactic to promote your business and your brand, it will likely be doomed to fail. However, if your senior leadership team is fully committed and active in the cause, the organization and customers will notice. In our support of Malaria No More, I try to be out front and lead by example.”
Grandpre says that he has traveled himself to rural villages in Kenya, distributing “diagnostic kits, malaria medicine, and bed nets to rural medical clinics” and even installing bed nets in dung huts. This year, he plans to visit Camaroon with Malaria No More and some of the Mosquito Squad franchisees.
“Being directly involved and passionate about our efforts helps this cause to grow deep roots in our brand’s value proposition,” he concluded.
Martin Edlund, courtesy of Malaria No More
Edlund says we really can eradicate malaria if we simply demonstrate the will to do so. “The rate limiting factor for our success is, simply put, the will to get the job done. We have a plan and a track record of progress. There are many challenges to solve, but with the right commitment and investment we can be the generation to end malaria for good.”
He added, ”Malaria eradication would be (in the words of the Economist Magazine) ‘one of humanity’s greatest achievements.’ Achieving it by 2040 would save 11 million additional lives, prevent 4 billion malaria cases, and unlock $2 trillion in economic benefits around the world. There are very few other solutions that would do as much to save lives and improve livelihoods around the world.”
On Thursday, April 14, 2016 at noon Eastern, Grandpre and Edlund will join me for a live discussion about the success of their partnership, the progress being made in the fight to eradicate malaria and the lessons that social entrepreneurs can take from their experience. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.