By Hind El Aoufi, Co-Founder
My mid-career-life crisis
About a year ago, I had a mid-career-life crisis. My role as a management consultant, helping businesses grow, was no longer enough. I was focusing on culture change, with most projects revolving around a ‘vision’. Yet to me, a lot of businesses at their core lack purpose. Which then meant that the word ‘vision’ was often lacking depth and that the real ‘why’ was missing. This lack of purpose resulted in a lot of leaders creating incentives that revolved purely around profit and growth, and a lot of employees lacking the energy or the drive to actually achieve that ‘vision’.
Bringing Purpose to life
The late 2019 Australian bushfires made me extremely upset. As a mum, the inability to go for a walk with my baby due to poor air quality is just inconceivably wrong. Throw in a global pandemic, dramatically affecting the world economy and fundamentally changing how we live and interact daily. These both are really shedding light towards how critical it is now for organisations, politicians and individuals to collectively look beyond self, and past ways of doing work, to think of better ways to do it. The people’s awakening to the criticality of our climate and health, and the need to act differently now, has brought some hope around a new wave of change.
Walking the talk: our youforher journey
Starting the Social Innovators at Capgemini also led me as a leader to ‘walk the talk’ and create a company that would breathe this approach. youforher is a purpose-led social enterprise. With my business partner Jacqui, we are aiming to create more social justice and a more sustainable planet.
We’re starting small with Moroccan all-female cooperatives making a sustainable and ethical product, argan oil. The choices we have faced already have been difficult, as businesses in the supply chain are wired around low-cost, low-quality, driven by the need to make endless profits. As two female entrepreneurs, our journey was filled with decisions and many challenges to overcome.
Are customers really preferring cheap to sustainable in their choices?
Are they ok with plastic packaging because they are more practical?
Are they buying beauty products without caring about who made them?
The world of supply chain was full of assumptions about the ‘general consumer’ who sounded like an unconscious buyer.
Yet around me, all my friends actually cared about what they bought, where it came from, buying from brands with sustainable and ethical agendas. So we still believe that the ‘conscious consumer’ exists and is aligned to our brand values.
Conscious buying and supporting our leap of faith
What is a conscious consumer? In a nutshell, it is someone who looks beyond the label. When you purchase something, you are essentially funding a business to continue doing what they are doing. When you are a conscious consumer, you are putting yourself in the driver’s seat of making a decision for which company to support. There are businesses out there supporting ethical sourcing, human rights and sustainability. There are also other business providing a cheaper and morally questionable way of doing it. And that’s why, even though I am currently on unpaid maternity leave and starting a social enterprise, I will be buying consciously. I want to be able to wake up in the morning, look at my baby and feel like I am doing the right thing for her, and her future.
Supporting a world where empathy, care and wisdom are in harmony with enterprise
Through our leap of faith about conscious buying and consumerism, we are really hoping to find like-minded customers. Our argan oil is a beautiful product, nourishing inside and out, and has been for centuries in Morocco. Our oil is ethically and sustainably made with love by all-female cooperatives. We are preserving the argan trees which are a Moroccan treasure and aiming to plant more trees. We are a digital business and we are giving back more than half of our profits to support women and girls education in Morocco. We are hoping to bring empathy, care and social justice to the world of business.
I am passionate about what Jacqui and myself, along with our team of youforher ambassadors have created. As we grow, we want to continue to walk the talk. For those of you who know me, I love quotes. And I want to finish with Jacinda Ardern’s beautiful words of wisdom, for the leaders of today and tomorrow:
“One of the criticisms I’ve faced over the years is that I am not aggressive enough or assertive enough or maybe somehow, because I am empathetic, it means I am weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong”.
Myself and the youforher tribe strongly believe this too. My wish is that you will be purchasing consciously and support our cause with empathy and care.