Academic journal article Business Case Journal

Passion + Service=Triple Impact

Academic journal article Business Case Journal

Passion + Service=Triple Impact

Article excerpt


How can you make a difference and a profit at the same time? That was the question facing five University of Maryland students committed to social change through entrepreneurship. The students created a company, and now that four of the five founders were graduating, wanted to find a way to continue their social venture, Triple Impact, Inc. (TI). TI was in the business of arranging service trips to take corporate employees to developing countries to work with underserved communities.

In the fall of 2012 the founders of TI, brought together by the R.H. Smith School of Business Social Innovation Fellows program, reached the conclusion that one should not have to choose between conventional and altruistic career paths. The Social Innovations Fellows program at the University of Maryland School at the R.H. Smith School of Business allowed a small number of select students to focus on opportunities arising from social and environmental issues. The program included an optional internship and co-curricular programming designed to develop skills in sustainability, social enterprise and entrepreneurship, impact investing, marketing and new media. The students, Dipti Badrinath, Stephanie Cantor, Abby Murray and Nikita Shenoy and Scott Shuffield, created a venture that would allow them to help corporations meet philanthropic goals by linking employee skills with communities in need of those skills. (Scott withdrew from the firm because he accepted a job out of state. All of the other founders lived in the DC area.)

Believing that serving others and helping to improve communities in need throughout the world was a recipe for leading a purposeful and fulfilling life, the students founded TI. TI's vision was "to improve the social and economic competitiveness of global communities by providing them with the top professional skills in leading economies." The four founders said TI's mission was "to create the infrastructure to allow corporations to match their skills with communities in need. We strive to transform communities and enrich companies while developing employee leadership, world awareness and motivation."

The firm's business was to arrange trips in which corporate employees would travel to an underdeveloped country and either work with in-country nonprofit organizations or with individual entrepreneurs. The "triple" in the firm name came from its threefold goals: happier employees who felt they were making a difference; helping corporations achieve goals such as promoting sustainability and encouraging employees to perform community service; and helping people in a less developed country. According to founder Nikita, "The benefits to corporations included the ability to build brand names in new markets and enhance their reputation domestically through work in developing countries." "Triple" also referred to bettering three bottom lines: those of the corporate clients, the corporate clients' employees and underserved communities. The founders believed employees wanted more from their jobs than just a paycheck; they also wanted to make a difference. "Current corporate social ventures are not enough. TI can help fill the need for corporations and employees to do more," Stephanie said. TI had survived its first six months of existence in 2013, and now, at the end of the year, was looking to the future. What steps could the firm take to ramp up and become a fully functioning start up, rather than just a dream?

The Inspiration

According to Nikita, "We all firmly believe in social entrepreneurship and the ability of businesses to create solutions that can make exciting and powerful changes in the world. As a group, and as individuals, we are all passionate about service." Their passion was evident in late night meetings where they huddled around a table in the business school and exchanged ideas. The founders knew the importance of getting involved after seeing the positive impact of involvement in their lives. …

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