Monday, February 25, 2013

Socially Innovative Supply Chains

I came across an interesting company this week -- Project Repat in Boston, MA -- that "creates jobs with dignity in the USA by upcycling excess tees into more functional and fashionable clothing accessories like blankets, bags and scarves." (1) One thing in particular that makes this company stand out among its peers in the ever-growing social entreprise sphere is its "mission to create a supply chain with a meaning." (2)

Some examples of this intense focus on the social impact of its supply chain include partnerships with an eco-friendly shipping supplies/materials company and a local nonprofit that employees low-income and at-risk teens in its in-house web and creative design studio. 

For an organization like Project Repat with a socially innovative mission, these supply chain choices make a lot of sense and may seem fairly obvious. A more interesting question is how can similar practices and choices be integrated into more "traditional" supply chains? As we've discussed several times over the course of the semester, consumers are becoming more educated and more demanding. While much of the focus thus far has centered around the sourcing of raw materials and production of component parts, some of the practices used by Project Repat for improving how they distribute their finished products also have practical applications for more traditional manufacturers. How will companies balance socially responsible choices like these with the continued pressure to cut costs and compete in an increasingly-competitive global marketplace?

(1) and (2) -

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