Good Coffee for Good Causes

coffee

A coffee chain in Cambodia is more than just another place to get an espresso. Feel Good Coffee is a social enterprise that runs cafes and sells coffee wholesale to improve the lives of the average Cambodian. One of the really neat things they do is train their staff to basically get jobs elsewhere, the company gets better trained employees while those employees are free to apply elsewhere with increased skills like management or customer service. Employees are paid a living wage for serving good coffee and pastries, if you’re in Cambodia you should pay them a visit.

In our business, empowerment means giving people meaningful options an the power to transform their choices into actions and desired outcomes.
For our farmer-suppliers, this means theyset the price for their own coffee, using their knowledge to grow and process their coffee without interference, we respect their autonomy and treat them as equal partners in our business, and help them to access tools and training about new processes and technologies that can make their farms more sustainable and profitable.

For our employees, it means sharing information, rewards, and power with our entire staff so that they can take initiative and make decisions, solve problems, and improve performance and service, and direct their own career path.

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Run a More Innovative Company Through Suggestions

Interview

To make a company more efficient and innovative all that’s needed is a suggestion box. It turns out that listening to employees can increase the effectiveness of a company no matter how you do it. So if a suggestion box is too old school you can use a Slack channel or any other form of open communication. I’m sure this technique of listening to people who actually put the effort into a task can be applied elsewhere too.

Micah Johnson of GoFanbase, Inc., shared with Small Business Trends that his company created a Slack channel where employees can submit their ideas. Tomer Bar-Zeev of IronSource said that 24-hour hackathons enable his innovation team to break from their usual projects and work on entirely different, new projects. At my company, JotForm, we hold weekly Demo Days to give employees a forum to explore their ideas, no matter how far-fetched.

Even a system as simple as a suggestion box can be highly effective. Just ask Charlie Ward, the engineer who used Amazon’s digital suggestion box to submit his idea for free shipping, which eventually formed the basis of Amazon Prime. As journalist Brad Stone wrote in his book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, CEO Jeff Bezos was reportedly “immediately enchanted by the idea.”

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Toronto’s Bloor Bike Lanes Boost Local Businesses

Bicycle

Despite being only 2.4 kilometres long the bike lane on Bloor street in Toronto was heavily contested. It was debated in local politics for decades and was only declared permanent recently. During the debate car drivers demanded the “right” to occupy land at the expense of others while maintaining an unhealthy and dangerous urban design. Thankfully, city councillors chose the safer bike-friendly design. Businesses argued that their customers drive to their stores and that due to the bike lane their business will fail. Thankfully this was incorrect. A study released last week revealed that, like everywhere else, bike lanes actually bring more money to small businesses.

Problem, research strategy, and findings:
Bike lane projects on retail streets have proved contentious among merchant associations in North America, especially when they reduce on-street parking. A limited but growing number of studies, however, detect neutral to positive consequences for merchants following bike lane implementation. In 2016, the City of Toronto (Canada) removed 136 on-street parking spots and installed a pilot bike lane on a stretch of Bloor Street, a downtown retail corridor. Using a case–control and pre–post design, we surveyed merchants and shoppers to understand the impacts of the bike lanes on economic activities. We find no negative economic impacts associated with the bike lanes: Monthly cus- tomer spending and number of customers served by merchants both increased on Bloor Street during
the pilot.
Takeaway for practice: Our findings are consistent with an improving economic environment at the inter- vention site. Downtown retail strips may therefore be suited to tolerate bike lanes and even benefit from increased retail activity. Pre and post surveys can provide valuable insights into local economic impacts of streetscape changes affecting merchants along city streets, especially where access to sales data
is limited.

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Fight Inequality by Taxing Corporations

happy workers in a factory

Unless you earn more then $200,000 a year corporate tax cuts likely make your life worse. Even though it’s a myth, it’s long been argued that by cutting taxes for wealthy companies jobs will magically pop into existence. Indeed, this myth is so pervasive in modern capitalism that we’re increasing inequality as a byproduct of supporting tax cuts. The good news is that the discourse is changing. Every year there’s more evidence that helping the 1% is detrimental to the rest of society and people are growing more aware of this. This month the Harvard Business School released their research on corporate tax cuts.

In the paper Corporate Tax Cuts Increase Income Inequality (pdf), Rouen and his collaborators, Duke University professors Suresh Nallareddy and Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato, analyze data created by tax filings to compare effects on workers at varying compensation levels in different US states with and without tax cuts.

“Compensation and income inequality are very relevant to managers,” Rouen says. “This is something that they’re now having to deal with in terms of SEC disclosures and having to disclose CEO pay ratio. Active managers are often the face of income inequality, in that these are the people who set the pay for everyone else and also are the highest paid employees in their organizations.”

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Thanks to Delaney!

Energy Fund Backed by Bill Gates Only Invests in Carbon Reduction

lab

On of the richest people on the planet is sick of climate change and has launched a venture capital firm to slow down global warming. Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) funds companies that can make a marked reduction on annual carbon output while also being profitable. Using capitalism to undo what capitalism has caused isn’t a new idea but hopefully it’ll work. So far BEV has funded some really neat initiatives from better batteries to cutting edge biofuels manufactured by plants.

“We are a unique fund with investors who are patient and flexible,” says Rodi Guidero, executive director of BEV. “Our goal is to find the companies that will have the greatest impact on accelerating the energy transition and help them in whatever way we can.”

To help him find those companies, Guidero draws on an in-house group of scientists, technologists, and entrepreneurs, along with a network of 140 academic institutions and large corporations. They provide expertise on the vast range of technologies that BEV is interested in.

To be eligible for BEV’s money, a startup needs to showcase a scientifically sound technology that has the potential to reduce annual global greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 500 million metric tons. Global emissions currently measure about 40 billion metric tons a year.

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