Zebras Unite
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Zebras Unite

Zebras in the Wild: Zebra Growth | Founding Member

With our series “Zebras in the Wild”, we are excited to take you on a journey around the world to meet founding members, chapter leads, co-op members and allies! We talk to Zebras in the wild and report back how they’re challenging the status quo, how they envision the future and how we can support them in their mission!

I sat down with Celina Uhl and Moh Al-Haifi to hear more about

  • What cracks they see in our economic systems
  • What a future of merit and abundance looks like, and
  • Their process of using Ethical Growth Marketing as a tool for #Growth4Good

(Pssst! Don’t miss Zebra Growth’s FREE workshop on Ethical Growth Hacking!)

Read the highlights from my interview with Celina & Moh:

A Zebra is…

Celina: … a company that is conscious and starts with a personal why. It focuses on a deeper purpose and creating a positive change within people and the planet. It puts customer success before customer acquisition.

Moh: … the future of business. A Zebra is a company that tries to elevate not only itself but the community that surrounds it. A Zebra always tries to be as equitable, fair and ethical as possible.

An ego-first economy

Moh: Our economic system is built on ego and the power of the individual. It increases the gap between the rich and the poor, and it makes some people more important than others. We can’t afford this type of inequality because the crises we face are too big and consequential to tackle through an individualist approach. If we truly want to overcome, or at least effectively manage, the disastrous effects of the climate crisis, pollution, loss of biodiversity and wars in countries such as Yemen, where I am originally from, we must redesign the system into one that puts purpose, community and collaboration first, and ego last.

A future of abundance and merit

Celina: If you are a former employee of Google or Facebook, you have a much easier time raising funding and growing your startup than founders who don’t have that type of background. We envision a world in which it doesn’t matter where founders got their bona fides. In our ideal version of the future, each purpose-driven founder with a vision and the drive to make a difference in the world, can do so. And we’re here to help, so that impact-focused companies can lead our society to a doughnut economy.

I envision the future as one of abundance in which we can all benefit and thrive in an equitable, fair way.

Moh Al-Haifi

From extractive to regenerative capital

Moh: We need to remove the extractive mindset from the capital infrastructure. Too often, investors and those who provide capital look at an investment as a way to extract value from the startup. We need to start looking at those as an opportunity to create a better world. Let’s make capital regenerative, not extractive.

What’s more: 3% of all VC funding goes towards people of color and women entrepreneurs. Like Celina mentioned, where you worked before and the connections you have can act as a precursor to how successful you are as a startup entrepreneur. That, automatically, makes fundraising a game for the so-called elite, instead of a merit-based endeavor. If we want to create the capital infrastructure of the future, we need to make it accessible to all and more equitable. Otherwise, we just keep rebuilding the same structures that got us here in the first place.

We need capital tools that make purpose and impact the first priority.

Moh Al-Haifi

Community as a key driver of value

Celina: Community is an essential part of the business. We need to move from the individualistic, ego-driven approach to business to one that is collaborative and community-driven. The business of the future is not about the single founder or even the founding team — it’s about the community that this business can build and nourish. If a business’ purpose is to generate value for its customers, it has to be in dialogue with them. And the best way to be in constant conversation with your audience and customers is by building a community. I can’t think of any other way.

Curiosity, transparency, empathy and agility: The startup community of the future

Moh: Radical transparency and honesty are essential to build trust and effective communities that can change the world. And with a high level of transparency also comes respect: Respect people’s time and emotions; approach conversations with empathy. You don’t know what others are going through and if you’re starting conversations with radical transparency, you need to bring a lot of empathy to ensure you’re not steamrolling others by being unusually transparent. If you combine this, with an agile and growth mindset, the limits to your impact will vanish.

Celina: Curiosity and consent are the foundation for having honest and direct conversations — be it within your team, with customers or your community overall. I think in an individualistic culture, we tend to approach most situations through our lens and experience. If we want to become more collaborative and build meaningful relationships, we have to stop assuming everyone views and experiences the world the way we do. We have to remain curious, be mindful of other people’s boundaries and try new things in order to innovate. Which is what we strive to do for and with our clients!

Zebra Growth: Empower founders with purpose, not ego

Celina: We provide changemakers with the tools, frameworks and resources they need to make an impact; in particular we focus on ethical growth marketing as a tool. We want to enable and empower them to grow their impact startups and be the driving force of our economy.

We treat ethical growth marketing as a mindful and experimental approach to marketing. We don’t believe in growth for the sake of growth. With Zebra founders and allies, we

  1. Explore why they want to grow,
  2. Understand which metrics are meaningful in reflecting and reporting on their social impact,
  3. Assess how they can mitigate the unintended negative effects of their business,
  4. Introduce iterative and agile processes that will boost their growth, embracing uncertainty, and
  5. Reinforce the positive impact they create.

How Can We Support You?

Moh: The term “growth hacking” has gained some negative connotations over the last few years. We are redefining the #Growth4Good era and want as many Zebras founders and supporters to join us in that effort! We want to prove that ethical growth marketing is a powerful tool to elevate the voices of Zebra startups, thereby increasing their visibility, self sustainability and most importantly, impact in the world! Whoever wants to learn more about ethical growth marketing, join our free community here and keep an eye out on our upcoming events and masterclasses!

Moh and Celina ask the community…

How can we best serve you in growing your impact from a growth marketing standpoint?

Shout-out

Celina: Check out Meet Maro! They help parents navigate difficult questions around mental health, diversity, puberty and empathy.

Moh: I’m a big fan of Kinfolk Coop! They are a marketplace for high-end sustainable, environmentally conscious products that are sourced from exclusively Black entrepreneurs.

Connect

Originally published at https://socialventurers.com.

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Zebras Unite: creating the capital, culture and community for the next economy

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Anika Horn

Anika Horn

Ecosystem builder for social change. Founder at www.socialventurers.com Meet me over at www.anikahorn.com for all things social enterprise!

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