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Driving social change
We must change the way we do business. I keep coming across this message, whether I’m visiting a bustling global city, a small town in rural England, a South African township or a G-8 climate conference. Until now, business—or capitalism, for the most part—has been a means of making money for directors and shareholders, and rarely about doing good. It’s time for us to change that.Finding a way to create a new business or adapt an existing business so that it is more aligned with your values and your company’s values is an individual process. One of the first things to note is that a good, socially aware business doesn’t have to be big to make an impact. There are many small-scale businesses around the world—from organic vineyards in Australia to llama knitwear cooperatives in Ecuador—that are all changing for the better how business is done.At Virgin, as our group expanded through the years, so did our ideas about how to treat employees well, and how to take environmental impact into account. We launched one exciting business after another, and by 2004, I had gradually come to realise that we at the Virgin Group had a chance to tackle the challenges our society faces in a new, entrepreneurial way. It was time that we explored how boundaries between work and higher purpose could merge into one, how doing good could actually be good for business.But I didn’t want just to throw money at social and environmental problems; I wanted to offer targeted help and entrepreneurial thinking where it would be most effective. I wanted to find a way for Virgin to help drive dramatic change, making the world a better place and helping people.
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