Transformation: from social entrepreneur to ethical business
Imagine you are a transgender women or an person who is deaf. Your local community organisation gave you a directory of clinics, schools, housing, offices, restaurants, cafes, entertainment establishments and other places that are known to be friendly or accessible. This list of places may be exciting at first. But excitement wanes only to reveal the multitude of places that are inaccessible to you because of who you are. How would you feel?
Without a doubt directories of safe places can help save lives. That said, I imagine them to be temporary measures never intended to become the status quo. Directories do a poor job at spurring growth in the supply of places. They risk segregating people into ghettos. Many of the digital directories that exist are unwieldy for the average user.
This insight has driven me to build a marketplace. While marketplaces are imperfect, they have been venues where humanity has often learned over generations to negotiate and arrive at mutual benefit. Ultimately I hope what my team and I build will be rendered redundant by progress in society. Until that time comes, B-Change will continue building a marketplace where the only criteria is that consumers and participating businesses be inclusive.
A sizeable and influential market awaits if we break down silos and taboos
Let me try to illustrate the opportunity that I see. People who identify as LGBT account for roughly 7 percent of the population. People living with disabilities range from 15 to 20 percent. We know that women hold up half of the sky. While proportions of ethnic and racial minorities vary from place to place, their number is also significant in size. Imagine the socio-economic power that could be harnessed if these segments were brought together.
I acknowledge the many reasons why advocacy groups have had operate in single issue silos for many years. Without question there is often disagreement even among those aggrieved by stigma and discrimination. That said, I am of the opinion that we can no longer afford to work in silos. In my worldview as a brown-skinned, Asian gay male immigrant living with HIV, the struggle for inclusion is shared.