“Social entrepreneurship is the use of the techniques by start up companies and other entrepreneurs to develop, fund and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues.”
The above definition courtesy of our friends at Wikipedia and it is an interesting, increasingly popular, philosophy where entrepreneurs create products or solutions that help drive social change.
One such company and humble Till client that falls into this category is Durban-based Savior Brand Co.
Founded by Max Pienaar this company is driven by the love of “crafting things that take time”. His business is functional leather products that are all about workmanship, good design and superior quality; done ‘the old fashioned way’.
The process is what it’s all about; along the way they train young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds in leather-work, teaching them the skill of craftsmanship within their Savior Life Cycle programme.
Creating sustainable employment drives social change
“A fair portion of our profits feed into this programme,” says Pienaar. “It is a holistic, solution-based initiative that aims to transition young orphaned and unskilled adults from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, into sustainable employment.”
Savior Brand Co achieves this by providing life-skills, mentoring, entrepreneurial training, employment and apprenticeship opportunities.
So is the mark of social entrepreneurship: releasing trapped potential and effecting permanent, positive change.
Success breeds Success
The growth of the business has led to new opportunities being explored, one of which is Savior Coffee Co, located in Durban’s trendy Station Drive precinct.
“We started off one way and ended up adding another business to our mix,” explains Max. “The initial story was a training and retail facility, but as the area has changed, and parking has become an issue, our (in-store) leather retail customer traffic declined while trendy foodies looking for a unique experience flooded the area.
We answered this changing circumstance by introducing Savior Coffee Co. to the market.”
Max is a firm believer that with any business venture you have to do your research, do your planning, but then it’s all about taking the proverbial leap of faith.
The leather business is still a thriving one although much of the retail activity having moved online . As always it is the quality of product (whether leather or coffee) that leads the way at Savior Brand Co., where things are made with love and to last.
“It’s important to have the flexibility that allows you to change and grow as your business’ circumstances do. It’s about getting up, learning lessons, adapting, and doing it all over again if you fail.”
On what brought Savior Brand Co to humble Till, Max says; “I like that it’s South African, it’s local, that was our draw-card, wanting to support local guys with a great product. As a business owner I travel often, so I’m a big fan of how the cloud-based software allows me to know what’s happening in-store at all times.”
Savior Co is proof that social entrepreneurship doesn’t have to change the world. Rather, the aim should be opportunity, sustainability, durability, and challenging the status quo by creating a new normal.
“Restore dreams and release a fire-starter,” as Max would say.
Updated: August 2, 2017