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SBN is helping local independent businesses rebuild with equity and climate resilience

December 22, 2020 Category: FeaturedPurposeShort

Updates

Updated to add in new workshop date (Jan. 27, 2021 at 2:35 p.m). Earlier updates included correcting the elements of the "triple bottom line" within the story. (Dec. 22, 2020 at 2:30 p.m.)
In the midst of economic instability during the pandemic, “how do [businesses] rebuild and reinvent, innovate and adapt while making sure they’re holding true to that triple bottom line?”

That is a conversation that Anna Shipp, executive director of the Sustainable Business Network (SBN), has had with SBN members, local independent businesses that revealed they were “feeling like they were doing their best to hold onto their values and their integrity through all of this.”

Anna Shipp.

The “triple bottom line” that supports a thriving enterprise represents “people, planet, and profitability,” according to Shipp. Practicing and measuring the triple bottom line empowers local independent businesses in handling the unexpected changes of managing enterprise. When instability comes, guidance can assist local independent businesses to rebuild or maintain their enterprise.

So in the fall, SBN launched a year-long series of workshops for local independent businesses called “Rebuild with Equity and Climate Resilience.” SBN describes the workshops as a “framework and toolkit to help stabilize and rebuild your business while being positive contributors to a strong, equitable, and climate-resilient local economy.” The monthly workshops are closely related to the internationally recognized Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to improve the beneficial impact on participating enterprises.

Shipp mentioned the deeper level of information, including technical expertise, workshop guests will bring for local independent enterprises. Local independent businesses and nonprofits have distinct missions, and series addresses both, encouraging them to discover “how we fit in the world,” Shipp said. Depending on the business model, enterprises will be encouraged to become more aware of the what and how in their operations.

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Shipp shared that the high poverty rate in the city shows a strong correlation with the lack of proper support for local independent business communities. According to the research produced by the Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia has fewer smaller businesses per resident than its peer cities. Local economic ecosystems with thriving independent enterprises tend to have higher wages, less economic inequity, less unemployment, better community cohesion, and more sustainability of the economic ecosystem.

“When you’re already stressed and strained, your ability to bounce back is significantly limited,” Shipp said.

The current climate for local businesses could become a catalyst for Philadelphia to reevaluate the support given to local independent businesses. At least, Shipp is hoping that the city starts to appreciate local enterprise, and begins to look at how to make changes from a financial and policy standpoint.

“Independent businesses are the backbone of what makes our economy strong.” Shipp said.

The next session in the workshop series is “Rebuilding Series: Developing Responsible Supply Chains,” and takes place at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, February 10.

According to the description, the workshop will delve “into the economic impacts of how local independent businesses choose their supply chain, from raw materials to delivery methods. Attending business owners and leaders will learn from an expert on how they can examine their chains with a focus on equity and climate-resilience.”

Register for the workshop

February’s workshop will focus on building a better employee handbook.

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