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What does it mean to do business while doing good?

If the purpose of traditional business is to create shareholder value and that of a charity is to raise donations to further its charitable mission, is there a third option that considers the generation of profit through business activities designed to benefit society?

A social purpose business, or social enterprise, creates value for individuals and the community – as a whole – by ‘doing business while doing good’. Women In Need Society (WINS) is a tenured social enterprise operating four retail locations in Calgary with the goal of helping women and their families to help themselves.

Local, Social and Green

WINS walks the talk by ensuring fair compensation and benefits for our employees and, based upon need, access to the very same programs and services that benefit our clients. We provide employment opportunities for adults with disabilities and employment placement for women seeking to re-enter the workforce after suffering domestic abuse, or exploitation, or seeking Canadian employment experience to improve economic self-sufficiency. We are the local choice for shoppers seeking an alternative shopping experience.

Quality, gently used or sometimes brand-new donated items are sold at just a fraction of their value when compared with mainstream retail. We are an environmentally friendly ‘green’ choice, aligned with the values of donors and consumers seeking to reduce consumption, re-use items or upcycle articles into new one-of-a-kind items.

In 2014, WINS also diverted 960,000 lbs of textiles, cardboard, plastics, metals and electronics from local landfill – and we are continuing to seek innovative ways to divert other materials.

Operating for twenty-three years, our business model has proven sustainable, creating opportunity for women and their families from donated items. We run like a business – by delivering value to our customers we create positive outcomes for the community but we do it as a charity. This formula is a win-win and I hope that you’ll agree with me by checking us out to see what’s in store!


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