By Roman Mukendi, AMIBA Resilient Local Economies Intern
Independent small businesses are enterprises that make multi-social impacts on the community. Social impacts mean “any significant or positive change that solves or at least addresses social injustice and challenges[i].” Social impacts in the world of business are primarily driven by what has come to be known as ‘Social Enterprises.’ Amidst varied definitions of social enterprise, the British Council’s definition is somewhat all-encompassing. It defines a social enterprise as a “business that exists to address social and environmental needs with a focus on reinvesting earnings into the business and/or the community[ii].”
Arguably, independent businesses fit the bill of a social enterprise in many ways. They fit the bill because business owners are part of the community they serve, and as such, they are not only driven by the profit motive. Still, they are often confronted with the additional need to support their marginalized communities in a sustainable way. By growing their business revenue and reinvesting the same, independent business owners are also growing their social impact potential. Whether these businesses have a deliberate social mission serving as an intrinsic part of their operation or not, it can be argued that as long as they emerge as part of the community and are supported by the same community, their allegiance is to the community. Simply put, social enterprises reflect the different ‘coats of developmental colors’ rooted in their community. As such, when you Choose Indie Local, you carry your community with you.
To highlight the social impact created by these small businesses, we must reflect on how the money we spend moves through our local communities. Many community-supported independent businesses source their products from local suppliers before looking elsewhere. These businesses also tend to employ people from the same community, and these employees use their wages to educate their children, feed their entire families, and access affordable healthcare services. Clearly, this flow of support demonstrates how buying indie local forms the backbone of the entire community ecosystem and contributes immensely toward improved livelihood. Livelihood strategies for community members include food and cash crop production, wage labor on farms or in enterprises, and entrepreneurial activities in micro and small enterprises. As part of a longer-term strategy, households or individual community members may invest in the education of younger community members to generate higher income in the future[iii].
In sum, it is thus safe to conclude that buying from independent local businesses helps build thriving and healthy communities in the US. In fact, it is important to note that the social impacts created by independent businesses do make their community and society, as a whole, a better place to live in.
[i] Duke, Career Hub. Website – https://careerhub.students.duke.edu/blog/2021/09/03/social-impact-definition-and-why-is-social-impact-important/. Accessed 06/18/23
[ii] British Council, Social Enterprise Landscape in Ghana, March 2015.
[iii] International Labour Organisation (ILO). Poverty reduction through small enterprises Emerging consensus, unresolved issues and ILO activities by Paul Vandenberg (2006).