Discover more from EO+WD | Employee Ownership + Workplace Democracy
What are "Zebras" and why are they important?
Part of the shift towards more socially conscious businesses is the emergence of a new term, "zebras." What exactly does that mean?
One of the biggest issues start-ups encounter is funding. Investors usually seek out “unicorn” startups, or startups that will eventually be valued at over a billion dollars. Startups that are socially conscious often find it challenging to secure funding, as their primary goal extends beyond maximizing profits. However, as we see a shift towards steward ownership, new investment firms are popping up that focus on more socially conscious businesses. One of these is Zebras Unite, which seeks out “zebras” instead of unicorns.
“Zebras” are businesses that are both profitable and good for society. The biggest struggle of socially conscious businesses is that being socially conscious often goes counter to the interest of investors, as it could upset the business’s profitability. Zebras Unite’s goal is to provide funding to these businesses, allowing them to get off the ground and make a positive change in the world.
Zebras Unite itself is a cooperatively owned business. It is focused on providing opportunities to groups who have historically been marginalized and seeks to change corporate culture. It is not so much interested in breaking down the system but instead radically reforming it to one focused on social stewardship instead of profits. Companies like Zebras Unite are on the front lines of changes in corporate culture. The shift towards more socially conscious businesses needs to have incentives, and Zebras Unite provides that incentive.