This afternoon, I had the distinct pleasure to trek out to Leeds, Alabama to take a look at Higher Ground, a coffee roaster that only makes the best fair trade, organic, shade grown coffee you can get your hands on. But don't take my word for it -just read the article about them being names Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine.
The dream began with three guys back in 2002. They now roast over 89,000 pounds a year and have a unique fundraising and marketing model whereby they support the work on nonprofits with several unique blends.
One of the owners and founders, Josh Kelly, said this to me:
It would be moronic to push an issue in the marketplace if you couldn't be competitive with it.
Well said. No matter how well-meaning Higher Ground was, if it didn't make a great-tasting coffee that was competitively priced, no one would buy it, and moreover, no one would listen. But because they're able to offer a tasty brew, people take notice and happily support their efforts to improve the lives of coffee growers abroad and nonprofits at home.
Many social entrepreneurs try to rush to market with a cause or an issue. And while noble, it may fall on deaf ears if their product or service doesn't satisfy a market need in a worthwhile way.
At the end of the day, you must be remarkable to be heard, whether you're in the for-profit or nonprofit world.