After a fun weekend of exploring the city of Pittsburgh, it was back to the classroom and another interesting site visit. We spent some time exploring the implications of marketing and the four P’s, using past examples and the success of those campaigns. Escaping perfect competition, through segmentation, differentiation, and positioning was also discussed in order to understand how to market effectively, analyzing Ben & Jerry’s in comparison to Blue Bell products specifically.
Our next stop was Homewood, a small neighborhood of only one square mile. After a delicious lunch and quality coffee at Everyday Café, we met with Dr. Wallace, who has a strong leadership role in The Oasis Project. With a socially entrepreneurial focus, several programs are working together to improve the livelihood of the community, which has a strong place in Dr. Wallace’s heart. I learned that even though the business model is not-for-profit, profit is still necessary for the business to continue, which is why it is retained. Some of the highlights include educational programs for elementary aged kids in STEM fields and aquaponics technology, which allows children to become engaged at such an early age in topics that aren’t learned in their local schools.
Personally, I think having a cause and drive for economic development is meaningful for a business. While it may be more challenging to initiate since there are more goals than just making a profit, there is a sense of a higher achievement for success. I am already excited to go back to Everyday Café, not only for the atmosphere and menu (homegrown fresh produce!) but knowing the social effects of being a customer. While often I choose to purchase products or services based on price and convenience, I think it is still important to support local businesses, in which quality may be higher, and see the impact of social enterprises. I realized today how just being a socially minded customer can greatly change the world we live in.
Our guest speaker of the day, Sangya, also had an interesting perspective on social enterprise. Her job at BNY Mellon is to put banking systems online in response to the growing innovative climate. From her own travels, she showed us images of Kenya and the slums, and immediately, we were surprised by the fact that they were all holding cell phones, including smartphones! Yet, the reality is that most developing countries are actually well developed in mobile technology, due to what is called a “leapfrogging” effect, bypassing all the technology it took to get to a mobile point. Most of the time, this is actually cheaper than meals, and they can use the technology from everything like social media to online banking. This sparked ideas from us, as we thought of ways to improve employment and economic development in these areas, utilizing the technology already present to override the birth lottery that we have and equalize the playing field. This becomes an opportunity for voluntary trade as multiple sides can benefit, such as businesses paying lower wage costs and employees earning jobs. Globalization is a key concept that all businesses should look to address, as the world is becoming bigger and more competitive, which means that every culture and opportunity in a country should be learned in order to be truly successful. Now the ability to get law and politics innovating at the same rate as technology will be important in the future as we continue to develop businesses.
Today I was inspired by the work of such social enterprises, and I hope that in the future, I can approach life and business with a similar mindset of giving back to the community and innovating at a global level, as I can see the great and positive impact it can have.