Have you ever traveled to a small village or town abroad, seen the most perfect artisan-crafted jewelry, furniture, or accessories, and wanted to help the artisan community out of poverty? To combine mission with a product you truly love and create a social enterprise rooted in your passion? Knowing that if you could aid in growing their business, these artisans could gain newfound access to a multitude of services, such as education, childcare, and healthcare, just to name a few? Well, that story is more common than you may think, and the work it takes to get it off the ground is tremendous.
The idea of a 9:00 to 5:00 goes quickly out the window, the multi-faceted process can be lonely, and, especially in the beginning, you’re up against doubt.
You’ve worked with the artisans to craft a product that you love, you’ve worked out the details of how its sales will support a mission that’s important, and now it’s time to start selling. And if you’re new to starting a business, especially a social enterprise, you’ll learn quickly that both time and space are a gift. Your home soon becomes a dumping ground for all that your office can no longer fit, and while undoubtedly exciting at first, it takes a toll. Before you know it, you’re entirely bogged down in the details and, for some time, your passion for your mission and product gets overtaken by operations.
Nonprofits and social enterprises, even those that are certified members of the World Fair Trade Organization, have trouble bringing their products for sale in the United States, and other countries abroad, for this exact reason. High shipping costs, difficulty finding effective organizational and operational systems, and the sheer time it takes to perfect the process is a major deterrent. And, as a result, the organization’s impact does not reach its full potential.
The Social Enterprise Alliance and Chicago Fair Trade Organization are great networks for social enterprises to gain tools and resources to help them maximize their impact. And many colleges have social entrepreneurship classes that provide innovative ways for organizations to stay mission-driven despite operational challenges.
Another way to help with those operational challenges? 3rd Party Logistics (“3PL”).
3PL is when an outside party to an organization takes on the role of that organization’s kitting & assembly, warehousing, order fulfilment, and shipping. It fully houses that organization’s goods for its designated shipping area, receives and prepares its orders, and ships the finished product to its customers.
3PL helps organizations in a myriad of ways. Organizations can broaden their reach and impact, all while saving the time, money, and stress of physically expanding. This allows them to stay mission-focused when growing their business and not have to keep the details of the organization’s operations at the forefront.
Although it’s a recent addition to HHPLIFT, with our 3PL services having begun in the fourth quarter of 2019, its growth has been tremendous and its potential is endless. In the first three months of 2021, sales through our 3PL services increased threefold from all its revenue generated in 2020. And since HHPLIFT’s founding was rooted in the incentive industry, drop shipping, kitting & assembly, eCommerce fulfillment, and 3rd Party Logistics are well within our wheelhouse.
Utilizing our 3PL services allows you to stay true to your mission, help the artisan community you genuinely fell in love at the inception of your organization, and focus primarily on ways to grow the network of amenities your business provides to the community.
And it provides career development to our LIFT™ Program associates. Led and mentored by HHPLIFT full-time staff, our LIFT™ Program associates are actively working in the warehouse while learning project management, following and updating operations & processes, various software programs and platforms, quality control, and how to work collaboratively to get complex jobs completed effectively and efficiently. 3PL provides them with more than a job: it provides highly translatable skills needed in any workplace.
Now that we’re past the mid-point of 2021, we can’t wait to grow our fulfillment services even more and continue to increase their impact. As a member of Social Enterprise Alliance and Chicago Fair Trade, we are looking forward to expanding our fulfillment client base and customized services to other social enterprises and nonprofits, in addition to our B2B clients.
Until next time,
The HHPLIFT team
For more information, please contact info@HHPLIFT.com