NEW MONEY: Business Models for a Sustainable Future, a project of SEA (Social Environmental Aesthetics), is an exhibition of videos, photographs, and socially conscious products from more than a dozen companies with business models that have environmental and social consciousness at their core, emphasizing sustainability and social responsibility. The companies and organizations included in the exhibit approach markets in new and innovative ways that foster cooperation, awareness, social and environmental justice, sustainability, philanthropy, stewardship, and humanitarianism.
NEW MONEY: Business Models for a Sustainable Future was conceived by Wilson Duggan and organized by Lauren Rosati and Verena Straub.
The One for One business model is as simple as it sounds: for each good purchased, a good is donated to those in need. With this “buy one, give one” philosophy, businesses enable their consumers to give something back in a transparent manner. Unlike other charity concepts, the One for One idea incorporates a form of philanthropy directly into its business model, proving that profitability and charity don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Though this concept may seem economically risky, many One for One businesses have been successful in pinning their hopes on the consumer’s conscience and willingness to pay more for their product in order to support a cause.
Building on human rights, Fair Trade businesses aim to ensure fair wages for producers in developing countries, which enable them to cover the basics of food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical care. By doing so, Fair Trade businesses directly counter poverty, the exploitation of workers, and “race to the bottom” practices. The Fair Trade model not only fosters direct person-to-person connections between businesses and producers but also intends to strengthen communities involved in the production of their goods. Many Fair Trade businesses support cooperative systems, in which producers hold shares in the business, enjoy equal returns from the market, and contribute to the decision making process. Often, revenues are reinvested into community development projects and education and empowerment programs.
Bartering networks enable individuals to offer their own resources in exchange for things or services they need. Instead of isolated competition, this business model strengthens the power of sharing and fosters a respect for skills and service. It also establishes a system for the reuse of goods based not on their monetary value but on the individual’s appreciation and need for the product. Mutual respect and trust are therefore key elements in the bartering system. While the monetary system has made exchange infinitely easier than the difficult task of matching one person’s needs with another’s resources in a small community, the rise of the Internet has enabled bartering networks to create larger markets where it is much simpler to match trading partners.
The impact of enormous economic and population growth, urbanization, and rapid consumption have led to climate change, ozone depletion, the fouling of natural resources, and the loss of biodiversity. Businesses built around the concept of sustainability make an enduring commitment to ecological principles in order to stop this environmental exploitation. By incorporating environmentally friendly practices into their production processes, these “green” enterprises strive to have little or no negative impact on the global or local environment. Instead the aim is to establish a balanced and non-exploitative relationship with the ecosphere, in which waste is properly disposed of and harmful emissions are reduced.
The majority of formal banks provide few financial services to low-income individuals. In some countries, more than 80 percent of the population has no access to financial services, making it difficult to start a business, buy a home, or attend school. Microfinancing attempts to fill that gap, by offering a way for individuals to lend money to impoverished people in order to help with sudden needs. Average people who want to support a specific project provide micro-loans; the microfinancing organization serves as an intermediary between recipient and lender and provides accountability and transparency for the transactions. By supporting an emerging low-income business, the lender receives his or her money back with an interest rate.
Social Economy Networks are development projects that form the missing link between different types of sustainable businesses. Committed to establishing an alternative economy, these networks aim to strengthen the relationships between bartering networks, fair trade shops and socially just businesses. Whereas some Social Economy Networks function as platforms for partnerships, others share their expertise and develop business models that serve as inspiration for other enterprises. Through education programs, lectures, or trade shows, they also raise awareness about sustainable business practices and demonstrate that a social and sustainable economy is possible.
ABOUT SEA (Social Environmental Aesthetics)
SEA is a diverse multimedia exhibition program that addresses social and environmental concerns. It assembles artists, activists, scientists and scholars through presentations of visual art, performances, panels and lecture series that communicate international activities concerning environmental and social activism. It provides a vehicle through which the public can be made aware of socially- and environmentally-engaged work, and a forum for collaboration among artists, scientists, activists, scholars and the public. SEA functions as an initiative where individuals can join together in dialogue about issues that affect our daily lives. Conceived by Exit Art Co-Founder / Artistic Director Papo Colo.