Five years ago, while I was working retail after going back to university to study Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, I could never have imagined how a conversation with a homeless fella named Tony (Picture above) would lead me to run the world’s first welfare enterprise in the form of an ethical fashion boutique & creative studio.
Tony had it all, highly educated, a great career in consulting that took him all over Europe, and a beautiful home. Then, BAM! The great recession hit, the work dried up, and he lost his home, car, and most importantly, his place in society. And yet despite being a taxpayer for many years he talked about the immense difficulties in trying to get re-established and accessing government services in the seven years on the streets.
And it was at that moment the welfare enterprise model was born, I had always intended to start a socially conscious business, yet neither social enterprise nor benefit corporations seemed to fit in with my personal vision for sustainable capitalism.
Simply put, the welfare enterprise model is all about replicating the welfare state and providing those in need with a full and broad suite of provisions needed to live a life free of hardship via a social security program funded by company profits, with an aim to not only complement existing public welfare services but to exceed them!
It’s a little radical, it’s a little ambitious, and it’s a little revolutionary, but I’m aiming to build my very own strong and comprehensive welfare state that ensures no one is left behind that the government will not build for us.
So, I’ve torn up textbooks and thrown out toxic economic philosophy that calls for maximizing profits at any cost, and instead measure growth on the societal impact I can create.
A for-profit company I redistribute 51% of my welfare enterprises net profits towards my very own social security program, The Wittenhearst Foodbank, providing food, clothing, hygiene products, funding for new kitchen appliances, and cash grants, with the goal everyone touched by my welfare enterprise has the provisions they need to live a life free of undue hardship, by providing life’s daily essentials to those on the outskirts of the economic system that shapes our lives.
Funded by creative services, my welfare enterprise Wittenhearst is set upon redefining what capitalism can do for society when the aim is social welfare and not the bottom line, by bringing capitalism and social democracy together in ways never thought possible in a world of rising inequality, because capitalism can only thrive in a just society when it works for us all and not just the lucky few.
I’m Stephen-Francis, founder of the world’s first welfare enterprise.
Want to say Hi? email me at email@example.com. Or follow me @wittenhearst on Instagram & Twitter.