What are the Arc Initiative and social enterprise?
Both the Arc Initiative and social enterprise aim to achieve an improvement in the human and environmental well-being through the use of business. While a social enterprise is an organization that aims to improve the social well-being rather than maximizing profits, the Arc Initiative is a program consists of business leaders, students and faculty members who share the same vision as a social enterprise.
The United Nations, Arc Initiative & Social Enterprise
Firstly, the United Nations, Arc Initiative and social enterprises share a common goal of being able to create a better human and environmental welfare. I believe that the Arc Initiative and social enterprises exist in order to modernize business practices and procedures in less developed countries. Not only this, but social enterprises can also help to create employment in a local community. For example, Osei-Duro is a social enterprise based in Ghana, with the goal of promoting local hand-dyed fabric and provide employment opportunities. Because of this, there is an exchange of knowledge between the local community and international consumers. The local community is able to gain a better understanding of these business practices and procedures, while international consumers who buy the local fabric become more aware of the West African culture.
I believe this is something that lacks in the United Nations, and so both the Arc Iniative and social enterprises can help to improve both human and environmental well-being.
Corporate Social Responsibility (or CSR) is an important factor in business where companies are believed to have a responsibility to create a positive impact to the society. However, sometimes businesses are not ‘socially responsible,’ for example, Walmart.
As stated in Mahesh’s blog post, Walmart has been forced to pay millions of dollars to the government for violating air and water pollution legislation. Not only this, but they have also been unethical in ways where they have not paid overtime workers and discriminating female workers.
On one hand, I do agree that Walmart has been acting unethically and they should stop doing so. On the other hand, it is also true that paying workers their extra time would be costly. Not to be cynical, but the two situations show a business’ opportunity cost for doing one over the other. As a business becomes more ‘socially responsible,’ they increase costs of the business. This would go against the business’ goal of aiming for getting a higher profit (assuming that the business’ revenues stay the same).
However, becoming more socially responsible will create a better image for the business. It can be predicted that as a firm gains a better image in the market, this can contribute to a possible increase in sales and hence an increase in profits (assuming that costs stay the same).
I personally believe that as Walmart aims to become more socially responsible, they can aim to earn profits in the long run, as which is similar to what Mahesh stated in the blog.
The world has changed since the past decade. Nowadays, people use smartphones everywhere they go, where surfing the internet has become easier and more convenient. David Goldman’s post on CNNMoney talks about how people may not need a mobile carrier by 2020 as WiFi is becoming more and more available, even in airplanes. Nowadays, people try to maximize the use of WiFi everywhere they go in order to minimize their data costs. Furthermore, phone calls and texts now can also be received through WiFi.
This could be a threat for phone carriers if people stop using phone carriers and substitute into using WiFi, especially since WiFi has a cost-advantage for consumers rather than using phone carriers. I found this article interesting and surprising because I have never thought that WiFi could be a threat for phone companies, especially acting as a substitute for phone carriers.
In the long run, in order to avoid this substitute, several phone companies can work together with commercial companies or restaurants for example to provide WiFi. This, in return, will change the company’s business model by adding another revenue stream and adding several key partners. Not only this, but they can also avoid the substitute by being more cost-advantage (not charging consumers with high prices of phone bills).
Coca Cola is no doubt the leading brand in the pop industry. It is either getting a Coke or a Pepsi. It has been that way and it feels like it will always be that way.
For years, Coca Cola’s advertisements have always been simple and to the point. As a response to Ashley’s blog post, Coca Cola’s marketing strategy of “sharing a Coke” by letting consumers customise Coca Cola bottles with their name is indeed a genius strategy. Not only that Coca Cola has created a personal connection with their consumers concerning their names, but they have also step up the game and created a point of difference which lets them have an advantage in the market.
Being able to customise attracts consumers as well as they become interested in buying the product. The day before the UBC Thunderbirds had their homecoming game, a Coca Cola truck came and parked in campus. There was a really long line in front of the truck, and so I tried lining up to see what’s going on. Turns out, they were giving out free Coca Cola cans where customers are able to print their name on.
Not only UBC students, but this has attracted other consumers as well as Coca Cola had an increase in sales. I do believe that customisation is able to increase a company’s revenue, but I do found it surprising how Coca Cola is able to do this through pop bottles, which is something that is not common in the market. I believe that Coca Cola is able to sustain its brand name and its marketing strategy of allowing consumers to customise their pop bottles.
As of August 2014, Forbes’ Peter Cohan wrote that Apple’s market share is declining. This is a surprising fact as I feel that Apple seems to be the leader in the tech industry, similar to what Vicky Hu wrote on her blog post. Carl Icahn’s open letter to Tim Cook (CEO of Apple inc.) talks about how Apple should intensify in its stock buybacks, while assuming that the consumers with Apple products will continue to increase in sales and that consumers will continue to upgrade to newer Apple products after they bought an Apple product, i.e. upgrading to an iPhone 6 if you have an iPhone 4. I would personally say that one would be a little too optimistic to say that Apple will continue to have an increase in sales in the long run as other companies will try to innovate in order to become the ‘leader’ in the tech industry.
As an Apple customer, I would say that in order to gain advantage in the market, Apple should invest on social innovation and employee education rather than intensify in its stock buybacks in order to gain more profit. Further supporting William Lazonick’s open letter to Tim Cook, Apple should create, improve and market its shared value in order to sustain their market share.
People: I would personally say that Apple’s main advantage is its customer relationship. Apple’s employees are well-qualified and they obviously have a high knowledge of Apple products. Even though Apple already invests $5,000 for employee education, Apple should try to invest more on the education of others in the community – having Corporate Social Responsibility.
Planet: Despite Apple’s excellent marketing strategy, its environmental policy is what I think lacks in their advertisements. Since Apple believes to be more environmentally friendly through less packaging and using greener materials, they should advertise it more to the market in order to create and improve their shared value.
Profit: I believe that both by contributing to the community and the planet through more advertising about Apple’s values, they are able to create more profits rather than just using stock buybacks. I believe that they will also improve customer relationships as customers are able to believe in their values, and thus may also charge premiums for being ‘environmentally friendly,’ even though it can be argued that it would be unethical to do so.
When Tsilhqot’in were given back their rights and title, it feels like the end of a war concerning claiming aboriginal land for industrial purposes. However, this is not the case for Taseko Mines who have been struggling to get the Government’s approval for their gold and copper mine near Teztan Biny (Fish Lake).
Cultural vs Industrial
Taseko’s gold and copper mine was rejected twice by the Ministry of Environment as it will have ‘adverse environmental effects‘ towards Tsilhqot’in’s sacred fish lake. For a long time, the Tsilhqot’in National Government has tried to empower the people of Tsilhqot’in, their territary, and to protect the Tsilhqot’in land and resources. Building the mine will be going against the Government’s mission.
The issue here is contemplating between building the gold and copper mine (that may be beneficial for the economy?) or preserving cultural heritage. It would be unethical to build the mine in a sacred land, but will we be rejecting an opportunity of earning more revenue?
I believe the solution that Taseko should do is to cooperate with Tsilhqot’in and build a joint management system, such as the Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park in Stein Valley rather than arguing about both parties’ views towards the environment and what actually defines being “environmentally friendly.” Working together will let Taseko gain more knowledge of one of their main stakeholders, Tsilhqot’in, and the environmental conditions around it.
When I was looking through articles on Bloomberg, I came into this article that talks how Tesla is going to move towards enabling automated driving into their cars. Tesla is not the first company to do this, rather European companies such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz also have these technological advancements plugged into their cars.
What I don’t find surprising is how Tesla chooses to add a feature that is not common in cars; having an automated driving system. What I found surprising is why they did it, because in theory, it will increase their costs and thus increase the price of their car, even though Tesla chooses to have a strategy that focuses on its narrow market segment and product uniqueness.
From this article, I believe that Tesla’s main competitor is not only the Nissan Leaf, but luxury car brands such as Mercedes Benz, who are also targeting high-income earners. Maybe what Tesla does differently from other brands, is that it is planning to “going from highway on-ramp to highway exit without touching any controls,” which is more than what the Mercedes Benz S550 is capable of doing. Tesla here shows that it tries to perform similar activities in different ways, which is to combine all the features the Mercedes Benz S550 has (telling drivers that they’re drifting out of the lane, there’s another vehicle in blind spot, and maintaining a safe distance between the car and the car in front by matching their speed). This article interests me because as far as what I have learnt in class about Tesla, this article shows that there is more to Tesla than just building a Gigafactory and a $90,000 electric car.
When I was going through my Facebook News Feed a few days ago, my friend posted an article on Bloomberg that shows how Singapore is able to keep up in the manufacturing industry despite the rise in costs, its constraints of labour and land. I chose to write about this article because there are a few things that I found surprising, one of them is how Singapore is able to shift productions of goods and services, “shift from making plastic flowers and mosquito coils to Boeing aircraft components and the development of bespoke medicine,” which is amazing how they are able to keep up with the current trends in the markets, which I believe that it is something difficult to do.
As a country, their goal is to employ higher-educated population and increase the peoples’ incomes. Apparently Singapore’s strategy as a country is to not only focus on its manufacturing industry, despite it is a core component of their gross domestic product. Even though workers in the manufacturing industry earn higher average monthly wages than those in other industries such as accommodation and food services industries, S$4,162 and S$1,800 respectively, there are more people working in research and development, with the Government investing S$16,1 billion towards research and development in 2011 to 2015. In general, this can create an assumption that businesses in Singapore are focusing on having technological advancements (which may lower their costs). Even though Singapore may not be the number one in manufacturing (making China its number one competitor), Singapore gains 19% of its GDP from manufacturing, less than that of Hong Kong and Australia.
Global warming has made it hard to predict climate change. Luckily though, the advancements in technology makes us able to somewhat predict the weather patterns although it is not 100% true. However, not everybody can afford buying a device that supports a prediction of the weather tomorrow, the day after that, and so on and so forth. In India, farmers are now beginning to use technological devices that are “climate-smart.”
“Climate-Smart” Agriculture (CSA) is a project started by the UN that promotes sustainability in increasing agricultural productivity, to support the security of farmers’ incomes, food security and development, helping these farmers to adapt to various climate change and reducing greenhouse gases emitted from agriculture.
A recent news in the BBC shows that Indian farmers are now using technological devices that help these farmers alleviate the impact on the changing weather patterns. One of these is the “GreenSeeker,” where it helps farmers to determine the health of a crop and thus minimise losses created.
Another example would be a laser land levelling which helps farmers to level the land into a flat surface that helps them to save 25-30% of water during cultivation. This device also assists farmers to minimise labour costs that are heavily spent to flatten the land without this device. Since not everybody can afford these brand-new devices, the local agriculture society provides these farmers to be able to use it for free.
Both these devices show the improvement in agriculture activity, especially in a country that relies on agriculture as one of its main exports. They also show how technology is becoming more available towards the mass market – especially in different income sectors. Hopefully in the future, the advancement in technology is able to help to solve problems in different sectors of the economy.