Thursday, November 3, 2011

So How do You Like Them Now?

Howard Schulz, CEO of Starbucks, is embarking on a different type of responsible corporate citizenship. One which is stepping into a breach caused by government inactivity and the need for investment small businesses.

The purchase of a $5 bracelet with the words 'Indivisible' inscribed upon it, will help finance a loan fund which Starbucks will start for entrepreneurs.

"That money can be leveraged seven times into $35 million worth of loans. And ultimately, Schultz said today in a meeting with Bloomberg View editors, he hopes to raise millions more for the project, "Create Jobs for USA.""
"Beginning Nov. 1, donors who give at least $5 will get a red, white and blue bracelet bearing the message "Indivisible." Mark Pinsky, the president and CEO of Opportunity Finance Network, a Philadelphia group that runs a network of 180 community-based lenders, will oversee the actual lending."
"Donations will be distributed to Pinsky's network of so-called Community Development Financial Institutions, which can be banks, nonprofits or faith-based organizations. CDFIs are certified by the Treasury Dept. to provide credit to businesses unable to get conventional loans, such as those located in low-income and underserved areas. Those often are the places with the highest rates of unemployment, too."

You can read more here.

Will it work? Who knows? All I can say is Starbucks got me to buy an occasional cup of coffee when I learned that they pay their employees health care benefits. And while I'm not one of those people who wear bracelets, I'm probably going to purchase one too. Will it influence you? Your opinion of Starbucks? And what is the role and responsibility of the corporate community to balance rightful concern with profitability with an engaged citizenship presence in our that goes beyond charity?

The answers are critical...I'll say this: at least Schultz is among those trying!

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