Sports Philosophy is a London-based sportswear brand designing sportswear and fighting child labour through its charity, the Freedom for Children Foundation. An assessment of this hybrid business model helps to identify three key lessons
1. There is a business model for almost every social problem
Child labour is a problem that affects 168 million children globally and is driven by the economic situation of affected families. In fact, it can be considered a supply side problem in many cases, where children need to contribute to their family’s income. This is contrary to popular thinking in the fashion industry which often treats child labour as a demand driven problem, i.e. factory owners sourcing child labourers to fill their production facilities. As a result, punishing factories may have an adverse effect and the issue requires a more detailed discussion. Sports Philosophy was set up to address this issue and uses its position within the garment industry to do so.
2. Businesses can be social platforms
As part of the garment industry, Sports Philosophy has better access to factories and ultimately child labourers. The company and its charity offer a platform to connect socially conscious consumers with social change. Sports Philosophy’s approach is in its current phase mainly research driven to help identify solutions that address both the demand and supply side. Using impact consultants, the company sends individuals to affected areas around the world. Any research is published on Sports Philosophy’s blog as well as renowned publications such as the Harvard Kennedy School Review.
3. Everyone can be a changemaker
Gandhi, King or Yunus spring to mind when we consider social activists. However, nowadays anyone can support change. Social media for instance offers a great platform to connect socially minded people and their collective activity creates great awareness and can have an amplifying effect by encouraging others to participate. In the end, this can foster movements which socially conscious businesses can either initiate, promote or support.