Despite the limitations of distance and the restrictions of health and safety concerns, community organizations remain important stakeholders and key actors in caring for the social health and well-being of their members. That includes you, the people around you, and even the local businesses around every corner. You’re all in this together as you traverse through the new normal and find innovative solutions to every new struggle.
However, we’ve noticed that far too many community-based organizations actively involve themselves with the business practices of small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) in their locality. And, despite having a say in how they should go about their operations, communities often leave this aspect of community-management off to the way-side. So, today we’d like to highlight the importance of community-driven change in SMEs and why community organizations should actively promote sustainable business practices.
Why Community Organizations Need To Be Involved
You see, whatever local businesses create, promote, advertise, and market directly affects the immediate surroundings, the environment, and the community members who reside where the business operates. And, if a said business follows not-so-sustainable business practices, this will put the social and physical health of the community at risk. Therefore, it is imperative to long-term success and community growth that community organizations seek active involvement with local SMEs.
- Community Development: Number one, active involvement directly ties in with community development and promoting good leadership in the community. It fosters a beneficial relationship between local businesses and the community as a whole, allowing for both stakeholders to benefit and flourish together. It also builds the foundation for future community members to follow in suit and inspire further generations.
- Community Empowerment: Number two, active involvement promotes community empowerment and hammers down the idea that cooperation and collaborative efforts have the capacity to produce realistic and beneficial results. It promotes autonomy and self-determination in a community, aspects that help lead a fulfilling life and combat the adverse effects of the pandemic.
What Can We Do?
With that said, there are multiple ways a community organization can actively get involved with local businesses and SMEs. And, while we’ll only be discussing two distinct points, feel free to explore and find alternatives that are best-suited to resolve the unique challenges faced in your community.
#1 Lobby For Product Transparency And Sustainability
An excellent way to spark community-driven change in SMEs is by working with the local government and lobbying for product transparency and sustainability. It’s necessary that we work through the due legal process, and working with the local government and councils will improve the chances of your plans following through.
- Sourcing Locally and Green Procurement: Number one, you can highlight that local businesses should take preference in sourcing materials and ingredients locally and abide by a green procurement policy. For example, local businesses should be provided incentives for local partnerships that benefit the local economy. In doing so, this will promote steady community growth, help other local businesses, and ensure minimal environmental impacts from operations.
- Resource Optimization and Zero Waste: Number two, community organizations can explore the need for resource optimization and the goal of zero waste creation in their business practices. For example, local manufacturing companies must adopt oil-free air compressors and other environmentally-friendly equipment in their manufacturing process. Likewise, the use of an effective logistics framework should result in maximizing the value of resources and generate no waste so that they do not hinder the immediate community.
- Carbon Offsetting and CSR Projects: Number three, community organizations should point out the significance of carbon offsetting and CSR projects. For example, SMEs can invest in local green organizations to reduce the environmental impact of their operations and promote community mobilization. Local businesses always have a social responsibility, and community organizations should actively hold them accountable.
#2 Collaborate With Local Businesses
Apart from working with the local government and council, community organizations should also directly collaborate with SMEs and local businesses to empower and develop the community. Of course, these projects are limited to ones that don’t require any heavy legal work, but still, any form of active involvement will work to the benefit of both the companies and the community members.
- Create Local Jobs: One excellent way that SMEs help the community is through job creation, and one way to utilize this is by hosting job fairs and favoring local applicants to strengthen the local workforce. It’s a way of giving back to the community and stimulates the healthy flow of resources among community members, ultimately creating a richer and flourishing locale.
Community Engagement Is Necessary
In conclusion, community engagement with local businesses and SMEs is becoming increasingly important in our current day. And, as the business landscape continues to value circular economies more and more, it is only imperative that both community organizations and SMEs work together to achieve greater sustainability. So, take the above-mentioned tips and guidelines to heart, and see to it that your community organization values its active involvement with local businesses.