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With people becoming increasingly aware of ethical issues and wanting to help the world become a better place, one area of business is continuing to thrive.

Social enterprises – businesses which have specific social or environmental objectives as their primary purpose – are more popular than ever and have gained increased attention this year given the many worldwide societal challenges of 2020.

Two of the best-known ones are Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant chain which helps disadvantaged youth and TOMS Shoes which supports community initiatives such as anti-bullying programs. In Australia, it’s estimated that there are around 20,000 social enterprises with numbers continuing to grow.

Pyjamas with purpose

One Australian social enterprise committed to making a difference is Sydney-based Awakind which produces ‘pyjamas with purpose’.

The brainchild of marketing expert Vanessa Rowed, Awakind produce high quality, Australian-made sleepwear and bedsheets for kids in gender neutral colours such as grey, teal and clay, and has just launched their spring collection.

Wanting to differentiate from the raft of motif-based and cartoonish kids pyjama offerings, Awakind’s pyjamas feature clean, simple designs which could also be worn outside of the house as leisure wear. Having launched late last year, they are also working on releasing a line for teens shortly and will be aiming to also launch an adults line.

How social enterprise can help change lives

The business donates 100 per cent of all its profits to funding life changing projects helping less fortunate children and partners with organisation Chopped Vietnam. Ms Rowed said she has always had a strong desire to help children in need – especially when it comes to youth homelessness – so specifically set out to create a social enterprise.

“My idea was to create a brand that would benefit kids somehow – particularly ones who don’t have a home,” said Rowed, a mother of two. “So, I wanted to do a sleepwear line with the focus of helping kids who don’t have a safe place to sleep.”

“As a passionate advocate for children, I wanted to support those in the field who are working at the forefront ofchange,” said Ms Rowed. “Most importantly, I wanted to ensure our collective contribution has the biggest impact. That’s why I’ve started off with partners who are small, so we can ensure our dollars go directly to the children. These organisations provide care at the very fringes of poverty- affected communities, relying on individual donations.”

Having worked successfully in marketing for many years, and also run her own shoes and accessories label previously, Ms Rowed was up for the challenges of a social enterprise.

Helping kids understand how they can make a difference

Like many social enterprises Awaken also features its own podcast as part of the initiative. “I think it’s important to help kids understand the positive impact they can have through the podcast. It features a series of stories sharing the real people, place and children whose lives have been touched by our mission. They are uplifting, soothing and age appropriate. To listen, you can scan the QR code on the PJs or the packaging. There’s a QR code which unlocks a bedtime story linked to our podcast about a child you’re helping.

“Ultimately, I really want to educate my kids on how to give back to society. I want them to think about kindness and generosity. That’s also been the driving force behind Awakind when it comes to making a difference.”

Do you know a business that is more about helping others than money? Tell us in the comments below.

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