Green Business: Hello and welcome! My name is Mabel, and you are listening to the Green Business Podcast. Today, we are going to discuss about sustainable development with Julia Norman. Julia is the Didi Society founder, a non-profit organization focused on promoting sustainable international development. Thanks Julia for being here with us today! So, let’s start asking you, often when someone talks about business, we tend to think about the profit of it, but not about having profit without damaging anyone or anything. Do you really think a sustainable business is possible?
Julia Norman: So I think that there is becoming more and more awareness about the impact of business and the activities of corporations. So I do think that the idea of social enterprise and triple bottom line in business is becoming more mainstream in certain parts of society. I still don’t think that business atmosphere has taken that on into the mainstream effect. But I do think that in consumers, I mean everyday buyers, especially in Canada and especially in Victoria, there is a consciousness around the impact that their purchases make on others, the environment… I think there is some movement to make sure that the business is sustainable, both culturally and environmentally. But I think there is a long way to go, with corporations especially.
Green Business: yes, there is a long way to go, Julia. So, you have a non-profit organization. How did you start with the Didi Society, and how can you fit your type of business as a sustainable business?
Julia: The Didi Society is a non-profit, local non-profit here in Victoria, so we work through partnerships with women corporative globally. So right now we are partnering with two corporative in India, and one in Guatemala. And they maintain operations with the women there to make fair products and then we buy them under a fair trade model and distribute and market them here in Canada and the US. So that business model, a fair trade business model that is based on a non-profit is on my opinion not fully sustainable economically. The best model would be for the profits for making those sales would be able to regenerate for and continuously support the future supply from the women’s corporative. But as a non-profit, the bottom line is to make sure that the help of the women that we are working with… is looked after. So I think that we’ve learned in that three and a half years that we have been incorporated is that we do need to take and learn from the business community and incorporate that into our model so that we can economically be viable for much longer than if we are under a non-profit model.
Green Business: So there is a consideration to fit the Didi Society in a for-profit model.
Julia: So, I shouldn’t say I don’t. The for-profit, I would be fine. It wouldn’t go against my vision to be for profit if the for profit had a social enterprise model and that it met the triple bottom line rather than just the single bottom line, but my fear is that the for-profit world, that the business world is not fully integrated into making sure that they meet the triple bottom line… and so, I hesitate to take it to a for-profit model. I feel that staying in a non-profit will protect the vision that we have, which is to empower woman through fair trade.
Green Business: That’s excellent, Julia! Thank you for coming today. We hope that Didi Society will continue to effect positive change in many places around the globe. And you, stay connected for the next Green Business Podcast. If you have any suggestions on topics for the next podcast, please leave your comment in our page. And see you next time!