Community Commentary Opinion

What’s all the for-benefit buzz?

Encinitas has been selected to participate in a national mapping assessment of the for-benefit economy. This puts Encinitas at the forefront of the for-benefit movement, where the purpose of business is social, environmental, and economic benefit for all.

In Encinitas and beyond, expectations that businesses be good citizens continue to rise.  According to a study by Nielsen, 66 percent of global consumers will pay more to support companies committed to making a social and environmental impact.

Encinitas has long-valued good neighbor businesses. Seaside Market in Cardiff is a treasured local institution with a track record of community and environmental benefit. Dudek, an employee-owned engineering firm headquartered downtown, has delivered an environmental mission for 35 years.

The city is home to two B Corps, a certification by the nonprofit B Lab for companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. GoodOnYa serves a 99 percent organic menu with a commitment to full transparency in ingredients and sourcing. thinkPARALLAX is a full-service communications agency focused on building brands with purpose. In addition, Patagonia, one of the first certified B Corps, has a retail store in Cardiff.

Nonprofits can also be “for-benefit” by earning revenue as they carry out their mission. Social enterprise Kitchens for Good provides healthy meals for the city’s Senior Center, at the same time delivering job training to the unemployed and eliminating food waste. The Pacific View Academy of Arts is under development as a community arts center. Efforts like these have received support from the Leichtag Foundation’s North County Hub, which provides co-working space for social entrepreneurs.

In recent years, Encinitas has attracted a new generation of for-benefit entrepreneurs who are leveraging technology. GoGreen applies water conservation technology and greenhouse design to enable local and organic food production year-round. GameChangers 500 ranks and promotes the world’s top for-benefit businesses.

How many for-benefits exist in Encinitas and other regions? What are their social, environmental, and economic impacts? What barriers do they face? What services and structures support them? These are the kinds of questions that the national assessment called the Fourth Sector Mapping Initiative will answer.

So far, for-benefit economic development has happened organically in Encinitas. Encinitas For- Benefit is a new community-led initiative that aims to accelerate this transition to a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient economy. Our mission is to build an ecosystem of support for for-benefit enterprises in our city. The local data we gather for the national assessment on the needs and impacts of this sector will be invaluable as we shape our action plan to support and grow for-benefit enterprises in Encinitas.

Submitted by Jane Naseem, director of Encinitas For-Benefit.

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