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Why are you a for-profit venture? Why not non-profit?
There are three reasons for our being a for-profit company --
Strategy, tactics, and self-interest.
Strategy: We prefer the for-profit model because we are attempting
to create a viable model that addresses both the needs both of the
workers and the corporations in the garment industry. Some major
players in the industry would like to put this problem of underpaid
and abused labor -- in short, of sweatshops -- behind them. But
it hasn't disappeared, and won't until workers can advocate for
their own rights. We believe that our success (and the unions we
support) will encourage employers to shift production to union shops.
Our long-term goal is to help organize the better half of the global
garment industry within the next 10 years. It happened almost that
fast 100 years ago in the developed world, in a large part due to
an alliance of enlightened manufacturers and trade unionists. Together
they passed the labor laws that created the wealth of the West.
From their base at the more enlightened factories, the unions went
out and organized the competition.
Tactics: For-profit status gives us access to vast pools of capital
from socially responsible mutual funds and union pension funds.
This gives a shot at exerting maximum pressure on the major brands.
If successful, we will be a new source of funds for existing non-profits.
We donate 7.5% of our pretax profit, half to anti-sweatshop organizations
and half to union organizing funds in the developing world.
Self-interest: The hardworking people who put this business together
have taken enormous risks. Some of us have put everything we own
on the line. With the outcome far from certain, we do not think
a reasonable reward for taking such a risk is inappropriate. We
this company to reconcile what we always wanted to do--change the
world a bit--with what we'll always have to do -- make a living.
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