What would happen if all businesses prioritised purpose over profit? This week, COSH! was invited by Belgium Impact (BE-impact) to an inspiring webinar on social entrepreneurship. After a welcome speech from King Filip of Belgium, we connected with fellow changemakers and social entrepreneurs as inspiring leaders of tomorrow.

At COSH!, our dream is to make conscious shopping easier for people so they spend their money on fair and eco fashion, that not only protects the environment but also generates benefits for society. If we all shopped fairer, we would create fair jobs worldwide. This would mean that when fast fashion jobs disappear due to the shift in consumer behaviour, workers will have better jobs to go to.

Leaving a legacy / Creating more impact

How can you create more impact as a social entrepreneur? Often entrepreneurs only think in terms of growing and scaling up. Impact maker Kaat Peeters inspired us with highlights from her new book ‘Leaving a Legacy’ and showed us that there are many different ways to create more impact.

Deep scaling

Deep scaling implies you change opinions and behaviour. Scaling deep involves targeting opinions and behaviours. To achieve this, you need to take part in public debate and influence policymakers. This way you can take part in the public debate and influence policymakers. At COSH! we wish to spend more time in the future on the movement Moving The Sales. In terms of consumer behaviour, we want to be advocating, normalising and making it cool to shop items at full price. Where people now get a natural high from “cool I bought this at a discount”, how can we psychologically make people feel that same high when purchasing something at the full price which is reflective of its value.

Scaling out and scaling down
  • Boosting your competitors is another way to increase your impact. By supporting other companies aiming for a circular textile economy, eventually, this will become the standard way of production. This will benefit all actors working in the circular fashion industry.
  • Through scaling down you delete activities in order to generate more impact through other activities. By choosing wisely you will have more time to boost your core activity. By scaling out, you multiply your impact by targeting a greater number of people.
Inspirational quote delivered by Kaat Peeters

We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children’ (Emerson)

Put purpose before profit

During the breakout sessions, we discussed B-corporations. Certified B-Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. In the fashion industry, brands are able to ensure fair working conditions in their factories through certifications such as Sedex-, BSCI- and GOTS-certificates. Some brands are guided by the Fair Wear Foundation to make the production process more transparent. However, small brands, who produce in small family-run factories, are often unable to afford the expensive certificates. Therefore many western-European factories are not accredited despite fulfilling strict European and local legislation.

When evaluating brands at COSH! we double-check the certification, but we also look beyond certifications schemes and take all sustainability aspects into account. Transparent and honest communication is crucial for a consumer to make a sustainable decision.

One of the key take-aways

Similarly to the fashion industry, it is often too expensive for smaller companies and NGOs to qualify for available certifications to prove they are driven by sustainable and social impact. Perhaps, BE-Impact will provide a more affordable scheme or free certification that ALL companies could strive for.

The questions that follow are then: What are the shared needs of this group of purpose-first entrepreneurs in Belgium? Would a BE-Impact certification be able to provide us all with funding, training and financial guidance that is relevant to our business models? Could taxes be organised differently? Would training institutions provide or offer free or discounted services? Would access to finance be balanced differently?

Social entrepreneurs, such as non-profit organisations, all aim to deliver benefits to society, but they have different obstacles to tackle to reach this goal. Help would need to be adapted to each social entrepreneurs’ specific needs.

BE-Impact founding partners

empowering social entrepreneurs

Belgium Impact was created in June 2019 by 25 founding organisations. ‘We aim to empower social entrepreneurs’ according to coordinator Philippe Eiselein. We would like to thank Belgium Impact for giving us the opportunity to take part in this inspiring webinar. We are so happy to see the growing number of social enterprises aiming for better. Delivering goods and services for society while protecting the natural environment: win, win, win!

Founding partners

  • De Belgische Monarchie
  • 4 Wings Foundation
  • Ashoka
  • BNP Paribas Fortis
  • Close the Gap
  • Concertes
  • Coopcity
  • D-HRD
  • FOD Economie
  • Impact Advocaten
  • Impact House
  • Innovation Wall
  • Konekt
  • LITA.co
  • Réconfort+sc
  • Smart
  • Sociale innovatiefabriek
  • The Shift
  • Université catholique de Louvain
  • Universiteit Antwerpen
  • Université libre de Bruxelles
  • Université de Liège
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel