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Our Approach to a Better World

By providing a structure and network for teenagers to create business and social enterprises, SAGE has designed an approach that helps young people form the belief that it is possible for them to make the world a better place, not only for themselves but for their fellow man.

  • Supporting Young Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurs who start socially-responsible businesses (SRBs) are the engines of economic wealth creation, and entrepreneurs who start social enterprise businesses (SEBs) are the engines for social wealth creation. SAGE identifies teams of at least three teenagers who want to start their own SRB or SEB, and then provides the teens with a support network to help them pursue opportunities to create their own business and social ventures.
  • Emphasizing Social Responsibility We subscribe to the definition of social responsibility based on the following description as taken from “Corporate social responsibility (CSR), also known as corporate responsibility, corporate citizenship, responsible business, sustainable responsible business or corporate social performance, is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. Ideally, CSR policy would function as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby business would monitor and ensure its support to law, ethical standards, and international norms. Consequently, business would embrace responsibility for the impact of its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere. Furthermore, CSR-focused businesses would proactively promote the public interest by encouraging community growth and development, and voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public sphere, regardless of legality. Essentially, CSR is the deliberate inclusion of public interest into corporate decision-making, and the honoring of a triple bottom line: People, Planet, Profit.”
  • Maximizing Social Impact Making a profit is of the utmost importance for any SRB to stay in business. However, some entrepreneurs explicitly make social impact the centerpiece of their business models. Thus, these social enterprise businesses (SEBs) directly address social needs through their products or services, or through the numbers of disadvantaged people they employ.
  • Promoting Environmental Stewardship Paul Hawken said in his 1993 book, The Ecology of Commerce: “The ultimate purpose of business is not, or should not be, simply to make money. Nor is it merely a system of making and selling things. The promise of business is to increase the general well-being of humankind through service, a creative invention and ethical philosophy.” Hawken argues that businesses and policymakers need to work together to find an “ecological model of commerce” so that everything that is produced can be reclaimed, reused, or recycled. As business transactions increasingly move beyond local and national borders, companies must be careful to consider both the economic and ecologic effects of its activities on all stakeholders. We encourage SAGE teams to adopt this philosophy.
  • Furthering Civic Engagement and Building Social Capital In order to be good citizens in a democracy, it is important that each person be educated and informed about the public issues affecting their professional and personal lives. Also, in order to be responsible business and social entrepreneurs, it is important that these individuals know how local, state and national laws affect their business, as well as who is passing such laws (i.e., politicians). It is also important that students understand the importance of their involvement in the larger community, and that those who benefit from democracy have a civic duty to participate in the process. By participating in voluntary organizations like SAGE, they are strengthening their communities by providing a youthful source of social capital.
  • Expanding Global Networks Members of the SAGE network are part of a powerful Transnational Social Movement Organization (TSMO) that is not only showing results to improve education, but is also bringing together business, civic and education leaders for the improvement of their local communities. Local communities, in turn, are often directly affected by global actors and actions.
  • Hosting SAGE Tournaments The SAGE experience begins with small-scale efforts by high school students, and provides them with an early taste of success. It also provides a stage where they can describe their successful business and social ventures to others. And for those students who are exceptionally creative and innovative, a national and world stage is offered. By hosting state, national and international tournaments, SAGE gives high school SAGE teams the chance to benchmark their programs against other outstanding teams, with the goal of continuous improvement from year to year.