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How do you know you are doing good? A practical tool for companies measuring social value

Palladium is supporting UAE-based social enterprise, Dumyé, in measuring the social impact of its business. Kristen Turra from Palladium’s Dubai team, explores the importance of shared value to 21st century businesses.

The Dumyé dolls are handcrafted and eco-friendly.

An emerging impact economy
The times they are a changing – more and more companies are realising the importance of going above and beyond financial profit. For a business to be sustainable in today’s world of complex consumerism, it must not only provide products that add value to their customers’ lives, but also that add social value to their communities and work to solve the challenges society faces. At Palladium we call this Positive Impact – when social, environmental, and economic goals are inextricably linked.

In fact, social value is becoming such an important indicator for business success that many companies are deciding to adopt a new tool to plan for, and measure, the social impact created by their products, services and other activities. This value is commonly referred to as the Social Return on Investment, or SROI. And it’s not just about reporting on Corporate Social Responsibility – it’s about measuring the social impact aspects of all your business activities using a set of principles derived from financial accounting (including budgeting and assigning a monetary value).

Dubai dolls – social return on investment
Dubai-based social-enterprise Dumyé is one such company adapting the SROI tool to its business model with the help of Palladium. Founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Sahar Wahbeh, Dumyé makes handcrafted eco-friendly ragdolls that are a favourite among adults and children alike due to their unique, limited edition design and ability to be personalised by their owners. And for every doll purchased, a doll is given to an orphan. The dolls have become so popular, that Mrs. Wahbeh opened her first store in Dubai Mall on September 1st.

Syruan refugees with their new dolls.

Dumyé is considered a social enterprise because it combines profit with purpose – having both commercial and social interests at its core. The company’s mission is to bring love and light into the lives of our children and the children who have not been spoken for. It does this through its core business of doll-making, but also conducts art classes where orphans can express themselves and engage with others while making and decorating their dolls.

Realising the profound effect the workshops were having on participating children, Mrs. Wahbeh and her team have been looking to develop a framework to understand the impact and design similarly powerful activities in the future. Using a set of principles and approach developed by Social Value International, we are working with Dumyé to review its programs and assess the impact on the lives of participants. The SROI method will be used to attribute a monetary value to this impact that can be reported to Dumyé shareholders and other company stakeholders.

Private sector, positive impact
Dumyé plans to keep expanding and scaling its business by selling the personalized dolls to its growing customer base. And along with this core business, the company will continue to scale up its social impact as well. Dumyé and Palladium hope to establish a lasting framework for Dumyé to plan and measure the impact of its work with orphans in order to achieve its goal of bringing love and light to the lives of children. Says Mrs. Wahbeh, “It is my hope that in 10 years’ time we will look back and see that Dumyé has made a real lasting difference to people all over the world.

If you’re interested in hearing more just get in contact with Kristen Turra at kristen.turra@thepalladiumgroup.com.