The boldest business innovators aren’t always found in boardrooms or tech start-ups, but in street markets, prisons and refugee camps… and at Meaning Conference.
Taking place this year on Thursday 15 November at the Brighton Dome in the UK, the heady mix of talks is carefully curated by Director Louise Ash to showcase the pioneers taking brave steps in unexpected places.
“At Meaning you’ll find bold ideas from unexpected places,” she explains. “You’ll find thinkers and do-ers from business, activism, academia and the arts. You’ll find the pioneering purpose-driven businesses innovating to disrupt not only their sectors but whole systems.”
The self-professed accidental ethical business geek counts herself lucky that meeting her heroes is a perk of the job. “These pioneers are not just walking the talk. They are living and breathing it in the most fundamental way; standing up to governments, rejecting the status quo, risking the bottom line for their principles, showing that it can be done. I find that incredibly inspiring.”
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From ‘the most political food in the world‘ in Palestine to cow-less milk in Sweden, this is Louise’s Meaning-ful AtlasChart.
“This is the ultimate example of a group of people identifying a problem in the world and stepping up to do something very tangible and meaningful about it. What started out as an awareness campaign about conflict minerals in electronics has become so much more. Faiphone’s products are the antithesis of planned obsolescence and they’re leading the way in circular business model design with their new ‘phones as a service’ offering. It’s rightly the phone of choice for ethical consumers in a very competitive marketplace.
“Screw the others, this is the coolest phone on the planet and I’m really excited that we’ve finally managed to one of the co-founders to come and speak at Meaning after years of fan stalking them!”
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“I’m not sure if it’s the audacious nature of the founding story, the joyful branding, the symbolism of the uneven shaped pieces in the bars, the damn fine tasty chocolate or the underlying mission, but Tony’s Chocolonely is one of the most inspiring businesses I’ve ever come across. After having himself arrested as a ‘chocolate criminal’ for being complicit in slavery and child labour, Teun van de Keuken founded a better kind of chocolate company with a focus on humour.”
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“With a football pitch that is organic and rainwater-fed, an eco-friendly stadium with solar panels, LED floodlights and a menu only serving vegan food, Forest Green Rovers is turning ‘the beautiful game’ green. I love this spirit of putting a flag in the ground and saying ‘no, we can do this differently, we don’t have to conform to the status quo’. It obviously comes with a risk that traditional football fans will balk at its difference (especially the vegan food) but eco-warrior Dale Vince is not willing to compromise his values and I love him for that.”
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“Oatly is milk from oats grown in Sweden. But it’s not just a tasty, healthy alternative to cow’s milk, it’s a fun-loving for profit business that’s helping farmers in Sweden to transition away from planet-trashing dairy farming to a more sustainable crop for themselves and for the environment. Oatly aren’t allowed to call it milk though due to legal action from the the milk industry in Sweden who are obviously feeling a little worried about these cow-less imposters. But it is milk. And it is good. And it is the future.”
“Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics was founded in a kitchen workshop in 1995. Now a family-run global chain with hundreds of stores all over the world, the ultimate beauty delicatessen of natural, organic and vegan products is still run out of the original shop in Poole in Dorset. The deeply-held values of sustainability and animal welfare have earned Lush a reputation for being uncompromisingly ethical. But they don’t shout about any of this. They are purpose-driven heroes of the highest order. Plus, they pioneered the fizzing bath bomb. What’s not to love?”
“Zaytoun is the world’s first Fairtrade cooperative producing Palestinian olive oil. In 2004 activists used their European passports to provide Palestinian farmers with safe passage to their olive trees in the occupied territories. It’s been said that olive oil from the West Bank is ‘the most political food in the world‘. Made from some of the planet’s oldest olive trees in the world, Zaytoun (the Arabic for olives) provides dignity and hope to the farmers as well as a fair income.”
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