We are focusing on Conscious Capitalism’s pillar of Higher Purpose, which recognizes that every conscious business has a purpose that includes, but is more than, making money. By focusing on its higher purpose, a conscious business inspires, engages and energizes its stakeholders.
A business leader’s higher purpose is what gets them up in the morning and energized to go to work every day. In the words of Simon Sinek, a company’s purpose is our WHY.
“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist?”
Developing a corporate purpose that inspires can be challenging, and sometimes is not apparent when the company first starts, but rather evolves over time. That is what happened with Shea Radiance co-founders Funlayo and Shola Alabi.
Shea Radiance is an all-natural brand of skin care products initially developed to solve the very dry and eczema-prone skin of the Alabis’ children. However, as the company grew and developed in subsequent years, Shea Radiance has become a partnership with and a business proposition to and for the women in West Africa who produce it.
The main ingredient in Shea Radiance’s core products is shea butter, which has been used for generations for its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory qualities. Shea butter is the fat extracted from the nut of the West African shea tree. These nuts are collected by local West African women, and then crushed and grinded to yield the shea butter.
In an effort to improve the quality of the shea butter in her products, Funlayo immersed herself in the shea butter supply chain. She reviewed all aspects of production, from collection practices, to transportation of products, to payment processes of the workers. That’s when Funlayo and Shola realized they could help — they could not only improve their products, but also improve the lives of the West African women at the source.
Through their extraordinary efforts, Funlayo and Shola helped to form a public-private partnership, creating multiple co-ops with local women. The Alabis provided training and hands-on help. They worked to eliminate the multiple “middlemen” in the transportation process so that the local women would be able to capture a larger portion of profit. Most notably, the Alabis created a network for the West African women to work together, establishing a true brand they can continue to build.
“Shea butter is not a commodity,” stated Funlayo recently, ”it is a face, a hand. There are women behind it that need to be remembered. We always have that woman and her value on our minds.”
As a business owner and entrepreneur, Funlayo was originally seeking out better supply and better quality products. And as a conscious capitalist, Funlayo found higher purpose by connecting more deeply to her supply chain stakeholders, bettering the lives of the hard-working women in West Africa by providing them resources and recognition they need to succeed, which (in Funlayo’s words) is a “win-win.”
This is Shea Radiance’s WHY. They are still a company that tracks profits, but it’s important to keep their purpose at the forefront of what they do as their guiding pillar for continued growth.