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Customers' Innovation and Social Enterprise Stock Exchange.. CISESE

When customers buy a product or a service from a company, they are assigned credits which they can trade, redeem or invest for eventual dividends in Innovation, new products and Social Enterprise projects championed by the company or corporation.

Photo of James Robertson
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At the point of purchase, part of the price the customer pays for the product or service is refunded to him in the form of CISESE credits, deposited into an online account immediately. The customer is awarded his 'stock', and if he or she already knows what they want to invest in, they can tell the cashier or tick a box, depending on whether they are shopping in person or on the internet.

Customers are encouraged to explore the online investor community they have become a part of, and determine where they wish to see the capital they have just handed over invested. The company may present a range of dividends in return for this investment; a discount on a new line or product when it eventually comes to market, or the joy of seeing a new local playground built, thanks in part to your own choices. A larger scale KIVA/Kickstarter with a choice of innovation and social enterprising ventures...WITH DIVIDENDS!

As well as learning what different consumer groups value in the communities around them, the stock market could also help companies identify the products and services that their customers really desire, and gain a deeper market insight in the process. 

As projects succeed or fail, share prices go up and down. What was worth 100 credits one week may double or halve depending on the progress of the idea. By offsetting the earliest redemption date from the date of purchase by between 1-12 months, companies invite a longer-term and deeper connection with their brand. Delayed gratification may help people begin to really think about what will be important to them in the future.

This model is conceptualized as an Internal Stock exchange within each brand/company. But there is potential for companies to partner on funding larger social enterprises, and even offer credit exchanges as part of bigger network of companies using the same model.

How does your concept celebrate, identify or inspire for-profit businesses that act as agents of world benefit?

Companies are giving the chance to consumers to make them more socially responsible. Some consumers may decide that they would rather put their credits towards funding a smaller, faster tablet computer, or a bike with no pedals, but others may prefer to see capital invested into social enterprise instead. This begins to negate the age-old capitalist dilemma of companies holding profit as sacrosanct above all else; perhaps the citizen consumers between them can choose if they want to lower the price of the product, or bring the factory back to their neighbourhood. Multi-dimensional problems can be assessed in a wider context.

How will your concept help us create or leverage stories of world benefit that are sticky and shareable?

The stories of innovation and enterprise can become narrative bonus features that are unwrapped (physically or digitally) with the purchase. When you buy a product or service you are also buying positive change; you can use your credits and the discussion forums and online communities that would support such an enterprise to whatever use you see fit. It also gives the consumer a voice in the future of the company, the choice of products/services it creates, and the identity it projects. The relationship between consumer and brand becomes ever more symbiotic.

What will it take to scale your concept so that its reach is global and widespread?

A range of global and local offerings would be made, depending of course on the scale of the company taking part. As stated above, a distinctive model and interface for the CISESE could be centrally created by the Fowler Institute, and credits exchanged on an open market between consumers with portfolios spanning multiple brands. The strength of having central administration for the CISESE trading platform outside of the companies themselves, means that smaller local causes can attract funding from large conglomerates, who would not have the internal means to source local investment options in every area.

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Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Nice one, James! Great to see you go from commenting to concepting – you're clearly been bitten by the OpenIDEO bug ;^)

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Photo of James Robertson
Team

I love this place. Perfect lunch hour (ok... and maybe during work a little...) diversion!

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Photo of An Old Friend
Team

It is addicting. :) James, check out Arjan's (an OpenIDEO rockstar) stock exchange concept for a previous challenge http://www.openideo.com/open/localfood/concepting/qld-lofe-the-queensland-local-food-exchange/ There are some interesting parallels to ponder.

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Photo of James Robertson
Team

Thanks Kirk. Arjan's idea is well deserving all the credit it gets! Looks like a really interesting challenge, and I'm sad I didn't discover this whole process earlier. Would love to have had a think about that one.

Thinking more on the nature of the CISESE platform, I guess it would rest a lot on the assumption that people know what is best for themselves overall. While some politics and ideology may agree, others might suggest their needs to be more communal oversight. I remember a TV series based in the uk that allowed the residents of one borough council to decide for themselves exactly how they wished to spend their council (local) tax contributions; it was by no means a roaring success.

I do think it's important for brands themsleves to embrace a much more systematic involvement from their customers..maybe it's being too idealisitc, but wouldn't it be great for consumers to be able to make a choice between brands armed with a deeper understanding of their business ecology.

Perhaps that is another stage... best keep focused on how a stock exchange would work first!

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Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Approaching this from another angle, have you thought about doing something like a Chase Rewards Card? (Of course, it would be called the World Benefits Credit Card) As a basic model this could go in several directions and achieve the same purpose. A credit card could promote new brands, incentivize behaviors, spread awareness, enable credits, and perhaps provide funding towards important climate initiatives, etc. CC's blend naturally into the lives of consumers. In this instance, the power of change is in the consumer's hands.

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