“I believe my purpose is to use my voice, vision and heart to impact humanity, and help others to do the same.”
Based in Canada, Deb Alcadinho of Business 4 Social Good is no stranger to entrepreneurship. In fact, her self-employment experience spans more than four decades with multiple small businesses in a variety of sectors.
Yet one theme is noticeable throughout Deb’s career – her passion for making a difference for humanity through business. After noticing a market gap, Deb put her passion and knowledge to work by founding Business 4 Social Good.
Now in collaboration with her team, Deb has created a space for Canadian women business owners to receive social impact training. Through courses in the Social Good Academy, one-on-one consulting, certification opportunities and membership, her clients learn how to create a purpose-driven company that helps solve some of Canada’s most pressing social, environmental and humanitarian challenges.
Just as she aims to support other women entrepreneurs, Deb also knows the importance of community for herself. Joining the HerBusiness Network gives her the opportunity to tap into the brain trust of like-minded business women and continue growing her business.
And when she isn’t sharing her wisdom, Deb can be found enjoying all of nature’s gifts and bringing them to life in photography. Or, you might find her on the dinner table gathering family or friends.
Who’s your favourite entrepreneur and why?
Madeleine Shaw, founder of Aisle (formerly Lunapads) which is a Canadian company. Madeleine was an activist as a young woman, and having a rebellious streak, she developed Canada’s first reusable period pad, initially to solve her own issue of allergic reactions to tampons and pads.
Lunapads has since rebranded to Aisle, but the premise is the same and has expanded to include period underwear. It’s changing the space of period equity for women. I admire her because she is and was a trailblazer in a product category people didn’t want to talk about; in an equity issue people didn’t know existed. She’s a social innovator and a soul sister in the social innovation space.
Why did you start your business and what gave you the idea?
I’ve owned seven small business ventures; the first when I was 10.
My current business, Business 4 Social Good, was born out of several catalysts:
I became aware of Bill Gates’ speech to the Economic Forum in 2008; it was a rally cry to business – the problems of the world cannot be solved by government and philanthropy alone and that business had to step up.
In the years to follow I became increasingly aware of the shift in consumerism and conscious capitalism – essentially consumers’ demand for companies to be socially responsible and to shop with companies where the consumer was aligned with the company’s values. And that employees were desiring the same alignment of values with their employer.
I was watching this shift, listening, reading and researching for the next few years.
I noticed Canada was quite behind in the Social Impact space and if a company wanted to learn HOW to be a social impact company, there was no organisation providing end-to-end training on ‘what is social impact’, ‘how does a company get started’; ‘how to do it right’ and ‘how to measure impact’.
Essentially I noticed a gap in the market, and knew I could fill it.
So I put together a loose framework and began running some focus groups for market validation, which proved successful. The framework was created and I set about designing the curriculum for the Social Good Academy, and began finding people to co-collaborate to co-create the curriculum.
With my business background, and having worked in non-profit, business development, and volunteered with a global service organisation, and on the other side of handing out grants and donations to nonprofits on behalf of a company – I knew I was well-positioned to understand the various sides of the social impact equation.
I’m passionate about making a difference for humanity – whether it’s social, environmental or humanitarian issues. I know that using my voice, vision, and heart can contribute to humanity, and I can help others to do the same.
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
- Making my own decisions
- Get to do what I love.
What three pieces of advice do you wish you’d been given when you started?
- Don’t try to do it all yourself.
- Seek the advice of those wiser than you.
- Collaboration is key to avoid working in your own silo.
What advice would YOU give someone thinking about starting a business?
The exact same three things as above.
What skills and knowledge areas would you recommend those starting out in business get acquainted with quickly?
Financial management – understand your business numbers and understand why they are important in your business.
To know your strengths and weaknesses.
To have a strong self-awareness of your values because this will guide what you’re prepared to align with or give up in the creation and growth of your company.
Social media understanding – not an in-depth analysis, but an understanding, as part of your overall marketing strategy.
To have a vision of what you want your business to be, to become, and the problem you want to solve.
What does your IDEAL business look like? Even if you’re not there yet, what would it look like if your business was ideal?
Business 4 Social Good would be serving female-owned companies all across Canada, to have the impact they desire in their communities, making communities & Canada stronger and more resilient, and helping to solve some of our most pressing challenges.
The companies have the training and knowledge to:
- Have the self-awareness to know, as business owners, their values, passions, purpose, vision and why.
- Connect to a (social, environmental, or humanitarian) cause that they want to work toward solving.
- Know what United Nations Sustainable Development Goal it aligns to
- Research and know non-profits who are working to solve the issue and through conversation know which one they’d like to align with.
- Be able to communicate to their internal and external audiences
- Understand ‘giving models’ and which one works best for the business.
- How to integrate their social impact into all levels of their company, so employees, customers, vendors/suppliers, and the community know it, feel it and see it.
- But most importantly they are working to help solve the issue.
The Social Good Academy (12-week program, cohort style learning) would run twice per year at $5K per person.
Alongside the Academy, we’d have a-la-carte training (modules from the Academy) offered either independently or through the Better Business Bureau of North America.
Consulting clients may choose to work with us one-on-one versus through the Academy or a-la-carte training.
Academy or a-la-carte participants would naturally lead into a membership to support and increase the student’s learning ‘in community’.
Certification is an annual by-application process where companies who clearly demonstrate they have integrated social impact across all levels of their business, can receive the Business 4 Social Good Certification.
What problem does being a Member of the HerBusiness Network solve for you and your business? And, how?
I can tap into a braintrust of like-minded business women who don’t know me.
Learn more about Deb and Business 4 Social Good.