Submitted by kevin on

People from across the non-profit and business community enter SIFP with a variety of different business models.  But while there are many business models which are admirable for how they change people's behavior in a beneficial way, they are not transformative.  

A lively group of entrepreneurs, mentors, and non-profit leaders gathered at the HUB Seattle to for a workshop sponsored by Social Innovation Fast Pitch (SFP).  Cheryl Sesnon of Jubilee Women's Center, and Amy Zimerman, Faculty of the Executive Nonprofit Leadership Program at Seattle University conducted a 150-minute workshop on Financial Modeling and Sustainability.  

Attendees included a wide cross section from the Puget Sound community:  current and former students of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, pioneers of the the first MBA program structured around sustainability, pre-launch start-up entrepreneurs, operating start-up entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs in the “just and idea” phase, as well as leaders from young 501(c)3 non-profits,  growing non-profits, and established non-profits in transition.

One of the topics was “how do you describe a transformative business model?”   For example, Mighty-O Donuts is a really great Seattle company that makes all organic donuts.   According to Mighty-O’s website:

It makes sense; organic food is good food. Good to eat, good for the environment, good for the farmers and farm workers who produce it the way nature intended.   And organic food is food the way nature intended it.   Organic food has been around since the beginning of earth’s history which is considered by many experts to be over 4,500,000,000 years.  

What’s more buying organic protects our soil, plants, animals and insects and it is healthier for you. On average, organic food contains higher levels of vitamin C and essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and chromium as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants. Organic food doesn't contain mystery food additives, colors,  flavors or dyes that can cause health problems.  

It’s good for the environment Agricultural pesticides are responsible for 70% of the pollution to our country's rivers and streams caused by chemicals, erosion, and animal waste runoff. Organic farming may be one of the last ways to keep both ecosystems and rural communities healthy and alive. Organic farming is better for wildlife, causes lower pollution from sprays, produces less carbon dioxide (the main global warming gas), and less dangerous wastes.

And finally, buying organic supports future generations.  Consumer demand is a powerful force for change.  As a consumer you can help protect future generations. Continue to support change by asking for and purchasing organically grown food, textiles, personal care, and other items.

And while the workshop leaders went to great lengths to demonstrate why this is a great model and a force for good -- it’s not strongest  model for winning SIFP.  Why?  Because it doesn’t transform the lives of its customers.  

And they offered Fare Start as an example of one such transformative organization.  According to their website:

FareStart is a culinary job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. Over the past 20 years, FareStart has provided opportunities for nearly 6,000 people to transform their lives, while also serving over 5 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children.

And because Fare Start employeess serve meals in restaurants as well as homeless shelters and day care centers, they transform the lives of people who receive their meals.  So that’s a double whammy of transformation -- tranformative for the lives of those who go through the program and transformative for those who receive a meal that they otherwise wouldn’t.

And despite both of these being great models, it was highlighted that the latter was a great SIFP candidate.  Have questions on how to make your business not just a great model but also a strong SIFP candidate, ask us here!