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Straight Talk About Being a Truly Social Enterprise

"Social enterprise" is the category name for a business that is run for profit (not a charity), but that also has other goals in addition to profit as the bottom line.

I consider dignify a social enterprise: we are motivated by sustainable finances (profit), but also by "good". That which is: good for us, good for the artisans making our blankets, good for everyone from stitch to doorstep, good for the earth.

Basha, our producing partner, is also a social enterprise, but with a heavy lean on the social side. There is simply so much need! When you choose to employ people who are traditionally difficult to employ, there are risks and challenges, and most of all: tensions.

In a standard business, if an employee doesn't show up to work multiple times, they get fired, right?

What if she doesn't show up because her husband beat her (again) last night, and she's nursing her wounds? What if she is cradled in a corner, unable to get going for the day — a direct result of the trauma of her previous year, 5 years, lifetime?

Decisions, as the boss, become a bit more tricky, a bit more nuanced.

Basha created a not-for-profit organization — Friends of Basha — to operate in tandem with the business to provide the support that is essential for the whole-person health & care of their employees. This includes a daycare program for employee's children (around 100 right now!), nourishing them with healthy food and enrolling them in school. There is a girls' hostel to house & support girls who used to fend for themselves on the street. Friends of Basha helps Basha artisans with emergency medical support, counselling, mentoring, and psychiatric care as needed.

And, most recently, they have facilitated a training program for women in a renowned brothel area, Tangail, to find a new way of life out of prostitution.

Back to tensions.

Shati is a Basha employee who has been with them since Day 1. She has pretty much only had rejection from age six from her mother, from her father, from her stepmother, from her first husband and now from her second husband. Her family is grossly dysfunctional and challenging to work with, and as a result of all of her life's trauma, Shati often makes poor choices. Last year, Shati suffered a premature delivery that ended in her tiny son's death and kidney trouble for her. She is now in kidney failure and will soon die without a kidney transplant or dialysis.

The costs are staggering. Much less than they would cost here, but with little support and no finances from the family, it is Shati's caring employer, Basha, who is seeking solutions. If Friends of Basha had the money to cover the cost of the transplant, it would be equivalent to running their training program for 40 women for a year. 

How do you make a decision like this? New life for dozens of women? Continued life for one women whom life has struck down? There is no either/or, and there is no straightforward answer. This is one of many, many, tensions & challenges faced daily as Robin & the team at Basha grind through the impossible and necessary work that they do.

If you are someone who prays, will you pray for Shati? Pray for health, for abundance, for wisdom. Pray for Shati's daughter, Sadia, and her destiny. Pray for everyone in the Basha circle as they do their best to make life decisions.

If you have wisdom to share on this situation, please do. If you have money you would like to give, you can do that here

But for all of us, may we appreciate & acknowledge the depth of what is going on here. That to be a "socially-conscious" business like Basha is above & beyond, vulnerable, challenging work.


It is amazing that so many businesses have popped up over the past 5 years who donate one-for-one, or who are committed to various, social-good principles. But, I don't know any other that is quite like Basha.

I am proud & I am humbled to work with them.


P.S. — Here is what Shati's work has meant to one dignify customer. 

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