No matter the size of the company, all it takes is people with a passion to help others. Here’s how some small businesses are giving back.
It’s not uncommon to see big brands with deep pockets taking action on major social issues like climate change and education. Many have adopted formal corporate social responsibility initiatives and want to be seen as good corporate citizens doing their part to combat social problems.
While smaller businesses don’t have the same financial clout, many donate their time, money and resources to support worthy social causes. In a 2019 study, 72% of people surveyed said they believe locally-owned businesses were more likely than large companies to be involved in improving their communities, reports Harvard Business Review.
With that in mind, here are three companies that are making meaningful changes in their communities and beyond.
1. First Step Staffing
Breaking the cycle of poverty for people in socially disadvantaged populations is a mammoth challenge. It’s also the mission of First Step Staffing, a U.S.-based staffing organization that employs men and women experiencing and at risk of homelessness or facing other barriers to employment.
Founded in Atlanta in 2007 by Greg Block, the non-profit has nine offices in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas and California. Over the years, the organization has helped thousands of vulnerable people find positions with First Step’s corporate customers that don’t necessarily have the capacity to interview and hire workers themselves.
The businesses that partner with First Step benefit from the organization’s holistic approach to staffing services. Not only does the organization provide job coaching to ensure workers are prepared when they show up, they also offer transportation to and from job locations, which are often outside of the city and not easily accessible by public transit. In many cases, businesses end up hiring the temporary workers on a full-time basis.
Escaping a troubled past
One of the organization’s success stories is Camden, New Jersey resident James Redd. When Redd returned home after a five-year stint in jail, he was looking for a fresh start and a job to help support his three children.
The return to civilian life is daunting for those who have been imprisoned. In the U.S., state and local governments have no obligation to help a prisoner re-enter society.
Through First Step Staffing, Redd was able to land temporary work at a local food services company where he was praised for his hard work and dedication. After logging 400 hours as a temporary employee, Redd was hired full-time, an opportunity he describes as “life-changing.”
2. Peace by Chocolate
In 2015, Tareq Hadhad and his family arrived in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, after fleeing war-torn Syria in 2012 — and leaving everything behind.
The Hadhads were determined to rebuild their lives and make a positive contribution to the community that sponsored them. In Damascus, Tareq’s father Assam was a successful chocolate maker, employing 30 people and shipping his confections all over the Middle East. Now living in a new country, they decided to continue the family tradition in Canada.
From refugee to entrepreneur
Eight months after arriving in Nova Scotia, with the help of volunteers, the family built a social enterprise –– Peace By Chocolate –– which sells sweet treats around the world.
The company quickly grew, aided by some high-profile shout outs like the one from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an address to the United Nations.
Paying it forward
Beyond supporting social causes around the world through its charitable foundation, Peace on Earth Society, Hadhad plans to hire 50 refugees by 2022 and to mentor 10 refugee-run start-ups over the next few years.
Today the company employs about 60 people and they are gaining great attention for their work. In fact, the family’s success story will be chronicled in a feature film, which is currently in production.
3. Harold’s BBQ
Before he launched Harold’s BBQ Restaurant, Linden Massey drove an 18-wheeler for 38 years. He knows how challenging it can be for long-haul truck drivers to find a hot meal on the road. So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and closed many restaurants, Massey made it his mission to feed the essential workers who are so crucial to the supply chain.
Chipping in for the cause
Over the course of the past few months, Massey and his staff at the Corning, Arkansas diner have served up more than 2,500 sack lunches to truckers from the U.S., Canada and Mexico passing by his restaurant.
But he hasn’t done it alone. When Massey started to run out of supplies for the hot sandwiches, he took to Facebook asking for help.
« They can only eat out of their refrigerator and cooler for so long, » Massey said in an interview with the local TV station. « I said, ‘I’ve got to get them a hot sandwich. But, I just didn’t have supplies.’ «
The business owner was flooded with food and financial donations, both from the local Arkansas community as well as corporate donors like McDonald’s, Little Debbie and Frito Lay.
Thank-you cards and letters now line a wall inside Harold’s BBQ, and Massey was also the June recipient of Corning’s Gr8 Random Acts of Kindness award.
Good corporate citizens
As you can see, it’s not uncommon for businesses of any size and in any industry to give back to their community. Even if you might be tight on cash flow or don’t currently have enough resources to begin your own initiative, investing time in social responsibility can be a great way to give back and contribute. Doing so will not only give your brand a boost but will also spread morale throughout your company.
About Liquid Capital
At Liquid Capital, we understand what it takes for small, medium, and emerging mid-market businesses to succeed – because we’re business people ourselves. Our company is built on a network of locally owned and operated Principal Offices, so whenever you’re talking to Liquid Capital you’re talking directly to your funding source and a fellow business person.