Social Enterprise Helps Corporations, the Environment and Charities at the Same Time

The president of a social enterprise that is designed to provide a win-win scenario for corporations and charities in North America says his experience in the church has given him the motivation to succeed.

"Personally, I don't think I would have been aware, I don't think I would have been as people-centered and compassionate if I hadn't spent the time in my local church ... I don't think you'd have a heart for it in the first place," Dan Leal, president and founder of CSR Eco Solutions, told The Christian Post on Friday.

CSR Eco Solutions works with corporations, health care organizations and government institutions across North America that want to donate or recycle their unwanted assets. Many corporations today find value in being socially and environmentally responsible, and Leal's organization helps distribute their unwanted assets – including furniture, supplies and other equipment – to charities that need them, which also prevents these items from ending up in landfills.

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"Nowadays, in corporate North America, if you have a brand that's known, it's kind of a proven reality that if you're not corporately socially responsible, if you don't consider the environment, if you don't care about the planet and the people that live on it, that's going to impact the value of your brand," said Leal.

In addition to furniture, Leal says he has also helped companies recover value from items like 10-ton trucks, HVAC systems and even entire buildings. Anything that cannot be donated is recycled, and, in the first two quarters of 2012, less than two percent of the assets his organization was trusted with were thrown away.

Leal has been involved in church and community groups for over 25 years and also has extensive experience in sales, business development and critical finance. He says most churches today could be better stewards of the financial gifts that are donated to them, especially in such a tough economic climate.

A survey conducted in April 2012 by The Barna Group found that 46 percent of Christians reduced their donations to nonprofit organizations, not including churches, in the three months prior because of the struggling economy. Of those surveyed, 33 percent also said they have reduced their donations to churches and religious centers, and six percent said they have stopped giving to churches altogether.

After undergoing a vetting process with CSR Eco Solutions, qualifying churches can receive items that are no longer being used by corporations for free, delivery and all, thus saving them much-needed money that can then be used to minister to others.

"Personally, I'm kind of looking for the day, welcoming the day, when the big denominations say ... 'Annually we're going to have the churches put in a wish list, because let's not spend parishioner money on things we don't have to,'" said Leal.

Only 10 percent of the charities that CSR Eco Solutions passes donations along to are churches. Although some companies have specific charities they want to give to, Leal seems to think the percentage of churches that are interested in receiving items should be significantly higher than it is.

When office furniture is purchased, Leal says, 96.6 percent of the time it is bought to replace already existing furniture. Of the products that get replaced, 66 percent of that furniture will end up in a landfill within six months.

While social responsibility and the environment are important to many companies, so are their finances. Leal says corporations that use his service, about 70 percent of them, save money over sending their assets to landfills.

Taking items to landfills often requires corporations to deal with building restrictions, the cost of insurance and shipping, storage fees and more. Through extensive planning, however, CSR Eco Solutions will attempt to transport items directly from a company to a local charity.

Donating items to charities might keep them out of the landfill for a while, but what happens when the charities are done with them? Each charity that works with CSR Eco Solutions must sign a right of first refusal, which may give the items a chance to help someone else.

"When they're done with the product, they can't just throw it in a landfill ... they have to let us know. We have the opportunity to pick it up, re-gift it, if not we'll see to it to make sure that it's recycled properly."

CSR Eco Solutions runs on a "lean business model," and doesn't have a single company facility. The entire enterprise runs on "cell phones and laptops," which seems practical for an organization that works from coast to coast in both the U.S. and Canada. Leal also says his business doesn't feel like work, simply because he gets to help people.

On the Web: CSR Eco Solutions

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