In an exclusive for SME Advisor, Industry expert and Founder of Enritsch, Stefan Ritsch talks about his aspirations for the ‘three wins’ – his company, its customers, and the planet…

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According to a 2014 study by Nielsen, 55 per cent of global online consumers across 60 countries said they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.

Therefore in the Electronic Age, where information is readily available, accessible and shareable, companies must make conscious efforts to listen and align with their customers’ needs. The millennial generation or Gen Y, are now better informed, socially aware and tuned in to current affairs, meaning that they often likely to research a brand before they make a purchase or career decision.

Times have changed and companies can no longer afford to ignore their social responsibilities. Once perceived as an extension of their marketing efforts, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is increasingly being viewed as an integral part of a company’s standard operations.

In its simplest form, CSR can mean adopting better workplace practices or charitable associations aligned with their culture and values. There are many success stories of companies who have launched campaigns that create genuine value for society, while receiving intangible benefits at a brand level. Coca-Cola, Visa and Walmart being a few examples.

Social enterprises however operate differently, in a sense that CSR to them, is embedded in their brand DNA. Essentially a social enterprise may be formed with the intention of providing a product or service, which ultimately benefits the community at large. This does not mean that they operate as a non-profit instead they may find opportunities to reinvest a share of profits into causes or initiatives, which are appropriate and relevant to the business. Rather than a quick fix or one time solution, the overarching goal of a social enterprise is to achieve sustainability, taking a continual and long-term approach to solving issues, providing solutions and offering support to a cause they believe in.

Starting a social enterprise

When establishing a social enterprise, entrepreneurs and corporations should ask themselves – what genuine value could we provide our customers? Sounds like common sense right? Yet it’s something that very often business owners fail to address.

Enritsch asked the question and realised we could help plug the apparent lack of awareness and access to quality information on mental and physical health that is so urgently required across cultures and national boundaries. So we created a platform where, without going to a doctor, dentist, dietician or psychologist, people can get preventive advice and general knowledge on ways to upkeep their health & wellness, all under one roof.

Customer is king!

As a business, we operate at two levels, serving the community and also other businesses. While our goals are predominantly to generate value for the community at large, giving them access to free information, advice, resources and tools to support their physical and mental health, we also recognised the importance of peer recommendations to assist with their decision-making.

A survey conducted by Crowd Tap suggests that a staggering 92 per cent of people rely on recommendations from people they know. The second biggest influence was consumer opinions posted online (70 per cent of people said this influenced them), which led us to introduce the concept of service provider ratings.

The system allows not only customers to review and choose from credible health & wellness experts but allows businesses to position themselves in front of an interested audience looking for a particular product or service.

For customers, we are comparable to being the TripAdvisor of the health & wellness industry, where we hope to become part of people’s daily lives and a trusted information resource from which they can base their decisions.

Whereas for businesses – we could be viewed as either a new ‘online shop front’ for those who have no or little online presence; or an additional sales and promotional channel for those who already have an established online sales channel, which creates a win-win situation for all. Enritsch.com also offers businesses the opportunity to extend upon their existing CSR campaign footprint and provides smaller companies a starting point to build their programmes upon.

Working towards a social cause

In a world undergoing unprecedented environmental and social changes, never has the need been more pressing to relook into the ways we operate our businesses, starting with a commitment to social and ethical conduct.

Unpredictable markets and lack of job security are leading causes of work related stress, owing to various mental and physical ailments.

In fact, recent findings by the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggest that that one in four, or 25 per cent of the planet’s seven billion people suffer some form of mental-related condition, such as anxiety or depression. So as the saying goes – mind over matter, it’s easy to consider that our physical wellness has more to do with our state of mind and lifestyle habits than we think!

The concept of community extends beyond providing solutions to people’s daily challenges. It also means supporting those in the global sense of the word through charitable partnerships and giving. We are currently in talks with local entities and are in the process of setting up strategic partnerships and alliances that support our vision and goals.

We are aspiring to become the largest health & wellness community in the world with more than 60 million unique monthly visitors, and over 75 million reviews and opinions.

Conclusion

There are many ways to incorporate and demonstrate social responsibility in our daily lives. Some include tackling environmental and eco issues, whereas others are community, HR or philanthropy based.

Apart from the obvious feel good effects associated with giving back, doing our part simply helps build better relationships through trust and commitment namely, better relationships with our staff, clients, customers and partners resulting in increased positivity and productivity, both inside and outside the workplace.

For instance, employees want to feel proud of the organisation they work for. An employee with a positive attitude towards the company, is less likely to look for a job elsewhere and will speak highly of the company they’re in. In other industries such as retail and hospitality, you may find that not only are eco-friendly initiatives well received by customers, but help in savings through energy efficiency/less consumption. What’s most important is to discover the ‘why’ behind your business and actions.

For us, having witnessed first-hand the negative impact of anxiety, depression and isolation of loved ones and communities, we decided to do whatever we could to make a positive contribution to humanity. We realised the importance of being able to seek professional advice in anonymity and taking precautionary health and lifestyle measures beyond fitness and nutrition to improve our physical and mental health conditions, which inspired us to create Enritsch.

Hope you’ve been inspired too!

Rushika Bhatia Editor

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.

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