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Vanessa Bell Mumbition the Podcast

Mumbition

The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 61: Social enterprises and success

Nandeeta Maharaj

Founder of Goods 4 Good

March 28, 2023
Nandita joins us on Mumbition today to share more about her inspiring purpose and what it takes behind the scenes to create a social enterprise.

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Goods 4 Good

Credits

Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Nandeeta Maharaj

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Episode 61 Transcript

00:01:30:05 - 00:02:01:23

Carrie Kwan

Frustrated with lack of access to everyday products that have a purpose, Nandeeta Maharaj took matters into her own hands and started Goods for Good, a platform that gives customers access to everyday products that when you buy them, the added benefit of addressing some of the social and environmental issues in Australia and the world. Nandita joins us on Mumbition today to share more about her inspiring purpose and what it takes behind the scenes to create a social enterprise. Welcome to Mumbition, Nandeeta.

00:02:02:12 - 00:02:04:09

Nandeeta Maharaj

Thank you. Thank you guys for having me.

00:02:05:19 - 00:02:14:12

Carrie Kwan

Now, for those that don't know about the important work that you do, can you tell us a bit about your journey and your business Goods for Good?

00:02:15:22 - 00:03:30:16

Nandeeta Maharaj

Yes. So, I'm a marketer by trade, but the last four years of my career, I ended up working for Zambrero, which is one of the fastest growing quick service restaurants. For every meal they sell, they donate a meal. I was able to see the full chain of events from selling a meal at a restaurant, all the way to feeding someone in a country where they were living below the poverty line. After seeing the impact just one determined social enterprise made, after that role ended, I was surprised to see that there were so many social enterprises in Australia, but no central place where people could buy from them. 

Since then, there have been a few, but not a platform that focuses specifically on social enterprises. So, I launched Goods for Good, which is an online platform where people can buy according to their values.  I have everything from soap, to toilet paper, to jewelry, to candles. So there's a huge range of products and it's trying to encourage people to buy according to their values.

00:03:30:16 - 00:03:40:10

Carrie Kwan

That’s amazing! What makes it classified as a social enterprise, are there certain requirements?

00:03:40:19 - 00:05:13:03

Nandeeta Maharaj

Yes. Yes, there are. It's a great question because you've got Fairtrade, you've got B Corp and then you've got social enterprises. What makes social enterprises different is they trade like a normal business. They make a profit, but they either donate part of the profit to the cause that they're trying to impact or they employ people who would otherwise not have that opportunity.

So, for example, I have a company on my platform where they donate 50% of their profits to animal welfare, or another one that donate 100% of their profits towards preventing youth suicide. So these are businesses that are ethical, environmentally friendly, so they tick all of those things. But that is the absolute basic of what they do, what they do over and above that is what makes them special.

A lot of the founders of these companies have got a lived experience of the cause that they're trying to impact, so the cause almost is the centre of the business. Sometimes when you go onto their website, you have to scroll a bit to find the product because the issue they're trying to resolve is front of mind for them and the way they do their business is completely different.

00:05:15:01 - 00:05:49:07

Carrie Kwan

Powerful stuff, I think it really resonates. I'm not making an assumption here, but I feel like a lot of small business women, micro-business owners, small business owners, they often start their business because they want that flexibility, but they also want to make an impact. They see a problem, they want to fix it. So I can see that there might be a real correlation to socially driven for purpose type within our particular community.

00:05:50:08 - 00:06:26:06

Nandeeta Maharaj

I agree with that because I think that word, purpose, comes up constantly in conversations when I talk to entrepreneurs and that whole cynic, you know, the why, finding your why, and I think that's the beginning of the journey for a lot of social entrepreneurs, they have to find their why and they're doing everything that they can to to pursue their purpose.

00:06:26:06 - 00:07:05:00

Carrie Kwan

I've just got some trusty stats from my co-host. You’re amazing, Lucy Kippist. I think there are around 20,000 social enterprises in Australia right now, that's not an insignificant amount. I think about 365,000 are actually run by women with dependent children. So, how would you describe the biggest challenge for this particular sector at the moment?

00:07:06:17 - 00:10:12:14

Nandeeta Maharaj

I can see the challenge. I think there's one challenge that I find personally for Goods for Good. But then, if I look at the sector as a whole, there's a new peak body that has recently been formed in Australia for social enterprises and they've done research in terms of the impact that social enterprises in Australia are making, and social enterprises in Australia contribute $21 billion, so that's the economic impact each year of social enterprises and over 200,000 jobs. That is without any help from the Government, from the Australian Government. So imagine what would happen if the Australian Government partnered with this sector. It would really unlock the full potential of the social enterprise sector. 

The biggest challenge personally though I face with Goods for Good, is the education part around social enterprises.I think most people understand what social enterprises are, that they know that these are businesses for good. But there is a deeper level to this. I did my research before launching Goods for Good, and one of the biggest assumptions I made was that most people would understand what a social enterprise is, because Thank You and Who Gives a Crap are so popular here in Australia.

But once I launched and every time I spoke to people about what I do and that I have a social enterprise, most people outside my social enterprise bubble didn't understand what a social enterprise was. If I questioned them further and said, “Well, have you heard of Who Gives a Crap?” “Yeah, of course I buy from Who Gives a Crap.”

“Do you understand the statistic they're trying to impact? You know, what is it that they're trying to change in the world?” And I think some of the responses I've had are, “Oh, they're just a good company.” So they build toilets. The reason they build toilets is because there's a really significant statistic out there; a child under the age of five dies every 2 minutes because of diarrhea related issues.So they're building toilets so the waste doesn't get into waterways and they're trying to impact those statistics. 

So, the whole social enterprise sector and all the issues that they're trying to impact, it is so complicated, there's so many layers to it. So, I think that is my challenge. I'm trying to look at all these different causes and each one has all these layers.Then, when I'm trying to explain to people what a social enterprise is, what they're trying to do, I find that quite challenging personally. So, there is one definition that the whole sector uses, which is basically businesses that earn a profit, but they are making the world a better place, as simple as that.

00:10:12:14 - 00:10:16:18

Lucy Kippist

That's about certain.

00:10:16:18 - 00:10:17:23

Nandeeta Maharaj

Sorry, I didn't get that.

00:10:19:20 - 00:11:09:07

Lucy Kippist

I'm sorry, I thought Carrie was jumping in, no? Thank you for that explanation and the definition. It's also a great segue to the next question I wanted to ask you. I actually saw on LinkedIn the other day that you're doing some speaking and that got me thinking about how important networking must be within the social enterprise sector.

The reasons that you mentioned before giving it's giving a voice to what you do on a larger impact. When you are networking as a business owner, are you doing much of that online now? And is there a tip that you can share for other women creating a social enterprise about how to deliver and articulate what it is you do and how to connect?

00:11:09:21 - 00:14:00:14

Nandeeta Maharaj

Yes. So, each state has a social enterprise committee that I encourage anyone who wants to be part of the social enterprise sector here in Australia to definitely get in touch with your local social enterprise committee. They have a lot of resources and they have lots of networking events and I actually call it the fire in my belly every time I network with them. Every time I have conversations with other social entrepreneurs, I come back hyped up like,”Okay, you know, I can do this!”

So, networking within your bubble is all good and well, but I think it's really important to talk to the people outside the tent, because they're the ones that we are trying to educate in terms of what a social enterprise is. So, for example, that speaking event that I had recently, I was part of Launchpad, which is Western Sydney University incubator and I got invited to an event for the School of Computing, it was their graduation, and I was like, “Oh, I don't know if that's relevant to me.” And they said,” Come along, network.” And I'm like, “You know what? This is outside my bubble, I will go and network.” I started talking to the dean who was just walking around saying hello to everyone on the table and he asked me what I do and I love telling people what I do. So I told him what I did and he's like, “Oh, why don't you go and tell the students this? Because they're too shy. They won't come and talk to you.” And I said, “Of course, which table? I'll go and talk to the table.” And he said, “No, there’s the stage. I want you to tell the whole room.” And I thought, “You know what, if I don't do this within 30 seconds, I won't be brave enough to do it,” because this is a room full of the smartest people doing amazing, brilliant work.

And I was like, “You know what? I've got to go get up, do this.” And I did and it was so amazing. I think that event, the result of that event, will be the highlight of my year because as I was walking back to my car, one of the students came up to me and said, “I really like what you said. You have really inspired me.a’ And I was like, “Wow!” That was just a highlight of the year for me to have someone say that to me and for something I hadn't prepared, I had almost 30 seconds to get up there and talk. So, networking can be really powerful. It can definitely get you the connections, but it can also give you the good feels like I got.

00:14:01:14 - 00:14:43:03

Lucy Kippist

Nandeeta, that’s such a brilliant story and well done, by the way, that's very brave, it’s very hard to do something like that, I know. 

But I was thinking about the importance of that message, I don’t think we’ve heard that on the podcast yet, that differentiation between networking within your bubble, as you so brilliantly put it, and outside it, and how important it is to keep a leg in both camps and to be brave about that. I was also just thinking it obviously becomes very important that your pitch, how you're articulating what it is that you do, is something you work on, because you can't just get up on stage and um and ah.

00:14:43:16 - 00:15:35:24

Nandeeta

Of course. Just on that, one thing that's really important, specifically for my business, I sell products from other social enterprises. So, I'm a secondary storyteller and it's really important that I tell those stories as authentically as I can. So, one of the things that I do is when I onboard a social enterprise onto the Goods for Good platform, I make sure I talk to the founder and I talk about their story and I tell the story back to them, because I do share their stories a lot and it is really important that whatever you do, if it is not your story, you make sure you talk to the person who owns that story and have the permission to share it and when you do share it, share it authentically.

00:15:35:24 - 00:16:17:16

Carrie Kwan

That is one of my biggest litmus tests on how well do you actually pitch? The litmus test is actually to your pitch. How does that person pitch your business? And that is because that's how people are talking about your business. You can't be everywhere, you can't be the official loudspeaker. So, you know, I love that tip, it's a really strong networking test to test someone else, you can actually deliver what your story is and what you're about and what your products and services add to people's lives or.

00:16:18:12 - 00:17:51:17

Nandeeta Maharaj

I actually have a really amazing story about networking and this is also another tip. I don't know if you know Sali and Julie, they're the founders of Her Black Book, which is a curated online session platform. They initially were founders of Style Runner and now they've got Her Black Book.

 I was at the Start Up Hub here in Sydney and everyone was talking within their groups. So this is again a networking event and I literally made a beeline for them as soon as I saw they were free and I talked to them about what I did and my products and they have a marketplace and they're successful. So I was like, “I've got 5 minutes. I need to get as much as I can from them in terms of, you know, their brilliance!”

They were keynote speakers that night and that is one of the tips they did on networking that night. They said when you do go networking, make sure you break out of your groups, out of your safety zone and go network with people you don't know. Because they said tonight, Nandeeta came and talked to us and because of that, will give her 12 months free on Her Black Book platform. They were really trying to illustrate that if you want to network, break out of your group, actually just go and talk to people you don’t know, and that day I did that and it was just amazing, I got 12 months on this amazing platform.

00:17:54:02 - 00:18:32:01

Carrie Kwan

There are surprising benefits at all corners. I want to flip the conversation to a different part of running a business and that's you are stepping into the unknown and often may not have prior experience in certain parts of running a business. So how would you describe your relationship to risk in your business? How do you actually feel that way? Oh, why?

00:18:32:01 - 00:20:01:05

Nandeeta Maharaj

I am risk averse with this business. As you said, I have never run a business before, so I have got three layers. 

My first layer is I'm a startup, I'm a founder, sole founder. Secondly, you add a layer of competing in a really loud marketplace, the e-commerce marketplace, you've got a lot of big players in there, so competing within that. Then to top it off, you add a layer of social entrepreneurship, which is an impact driven mindset, it is very challenging. 

I try not to take risks at this stage of my business because I'm learning at a ferocious speed. I've been in this business for a year and I'm learning, executing, learning, executing, and I'm doing it to the best of my ability without investing too much because I think this is a long game for me, because the education for social enterprises is definitely out there, it's definitely starting. But I need to move with the pace of that education, so I'm trying to make sure I minimize my risk at this stage.

00:20:01:05 - 00:21:15:00

Carrie Kwan

You know, I think it's pertinent to remind ourselves that risk changes as the business evolves. It's not something that we kind of look at it and go,”Oh, right now I'm going to make an assessment and it's going to stay like that.” If you're growing at a rapid pace, it can actually change dramatically in those few months.

Just a good practice to get into that mindset of going, “Okay, we have actually changed that something significant, the team’s growing bigger, or the products or services that we've entered in the market,” to actually constantly think about what are the scenarios that I need to think about right now and what's changed? And is my appetite for that type of risk still the same? Or how do I mitigate it once it's changed? Thanks for sharing a little perspective there. 

Our last question for you, Nandeeta, is flipping it all over again and telling us about your support network. Co is part of our name and it's in recognition of the men and the women, the family, the clients, the friends that support you and the business to grow. Could you share how your Co works and who supports you?

00:21:15:14 - 00:22:43:01

Nandeeta Maharaj

Of course. So first of all, definitely my husband and my two teenagers now. They are a great sounding board and they're my biggest cheerleaders and I've now recruited the teenagers to help me with the business as well, which is great, because I think it's a brilliant learning experience for them. 

Definitely my friends, they attend my events and support me and buy from me, which is great, they were all my first customers. My ex-colleagues. I've had over a 20 year career so far and they are all coming out to support me and helping me whichever way they can. 

Finally, the founders of the companies that are on my platform are literally the people who help me wake up every day and say, “Yep, I'm going to keep doing this. This is really important work.” And the impact that these companies are making is profound. If I get a chance, I will tell you maybe one of the stories of one of the companies I work with, not supposed to have favorites, but I do have a few favorites. The founders and the companies, the social enterprises on the platform are making a real transparent impact, that is changing the statistics on the cause that they're trying to impact.

00:22:45:05 - 00:23:18:14

Lucy Kippist

Wonderful. Thank you so much, Nandeeta. Thank you so much for joining us on Mumbition the podcast today. If you'd like to find out more about Nandeeta or the Goods for Good platform, you can find both on our Mums & Co member directory and if you haven't already, please come and join the thousands of business owning women just like you at mumsandco.com.au 

What's one item, if you could name one, that we should all be buying with our social enterprise hat on?

00:23:19:07 - 00:24:35:12

Nandeeta Maharaj

That was my answer. But I think I might have to rephrase it because I actually have my daughter here to ask the question, but it can be a bit triggering. So I'm just going to have to tone it down a little bit, my answer to that. 

So with COVID, there is a lot of trafficking that's happening in the world and there's a jewelry company on my platform called This is Eden, and they rescue women and girls and they have rescued about 1800 so far. It's mainly in the Myanmar area and they have beautiful jewelry that creates real impact. That would be one of the most important things, I think, on my platform that I would encourage everyone to find out about.

The company is called This is Eden and as soon as you land on my platform, you'll see the necklace and when you click on it, it's got videos which will tell you the story.

Why? This is a really, really important cause that we need to look at right now.