Translated from Spanish — view original interview here.
As more and more companies around the world realize the myriad benefits of “doing good” – to their reputations as well as to their bottom line, we’ve seen a surge of feel-good campaigns and initiatives aimed at engaging conscientious consumers. But are brands going far enough?
Ahead of Sustainable Brands Buenos Aires’ ‘In Focus’ event highlighting ‘The Good Economy’ next week, we spoke with speaker and MC Matías Kelly - entrepreneur, Secretary of Social Economy at the Ministry of Social Development of Argentina, and former General Manager of Ashoka Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay – to hear his thoughts on how brands can put rubber to road to create a better future.
For more on
The Good Economy,
on July 11
SB Buenos Aires
In Focus!### How would you define the concept of The Good Economy?
Matías Kelly: The Good Economy is an economy that places the person in the center and is ordered according to the common good, and where everything that is spent, bought or produced points to that common good.
Companies, as the axis of this good economy, should develop benefits for people, either in the product or in the way they produce.
I imagine a good economy with companies that, the more they sell, the better they make the world. In this way, they generate a positive impact.
As for the consumer, he contributes when - at the time of choosing what to buy or consume, a product or a service - he can become aware of how it was made and how that impacts in the world.
An interesting aspect is asking: If a company disappears today, is the world a better or worse place?
What is the role of brands in this scenario?
MKThe role of brands is to become aware and ride the wave. Brands that do not align to this view will disappear in the medium or short term.
On one hand, I think brands are made by people. Each one of us likes to go to work thinking that what we do has a purpose, a meaning - and if it makes sense to continue filling the world with garbage or products nobody needs, or creating needs nobody has. If in this logic, brands have the possibility to sell while they generate positive impact in the world, the benefit is double.
When I say positive impact, I don’t refer to ‘green’ products only. I am referring to products made with cooperatives of the popular economy we can strengthen, which are also friendly to the environment.
Stopping pollution is very positive, but it’s not enough. It has to be restored. Brand Guayaquil, for example, not only does not cut down trees - when you buy a kilo of yerba mate, you are buying a yerba mate that has a specific social impact, because it’s produced by natives who are paid a fair value. And besides all this, it restores the native forests. This company in its balance sheets will inform its partners not only the sales indexes as any other company, but also the positive social environmental impact generated.
What are the priorities when redefining the bases for a new, better economy?
In the first place, attending to the needs of different populations or groups and not doing to the other what we don’t want them to do to us. In the second place, taking into account the needs of everyone. Also, attending to something key: poverty, inequality, apathy and indifference - thinking there’s someone in need, someone vulnerable. There is a giant gap between the one that has and the one who doesn’t, and we need to see how we can fix that gap.
We have to ask ourselves: How much do we care that at this moment someone is suffering?
When consciousness evolves, the market evolves, because the market is you and I. When we buy a t-shirt, I don’t have to think about the price only, but also how was it made – if the cotton I wear is organic and that the person who produced it has brought dignity to his home and has been paid a fair price. It’s important that the brand communicates this and allows entering this logic, with a more communal sense.