At the beginning of the month I finally had my application to be a Community Interest Company (CIC) accepted! It’s taken a lot of work and is something that feels so important to me, so integral to how I want this community to work, to grow and to serve. It’s also something I have had questioned by other female businesses owners - why I don’t just want to run this as my own business, taking the profits for myself. So I wanted to, firstly, just explain what a CIC was and then explain why I feel it’s so important…
What is a CIC?
A CIC is a bit like a cross between a business and a charity. I charge for my services and make profit but, unlike in a ‘normal’ business, instead of all of the profit coming to me, to do with what I wish, the profit has to be used to serve the wider community. Being registered as a CIC also opens up more funding opportunities, meaning I can, hopefully, do more important work to support you, regardless of your financial situation. (And now, more than ever, this is a really serious issue that is affecting most people).
Why is it important?
This is a question that I have been asked multiple times and it’s something I have had to think very carefully about. As women, we have been conditioned to be serving to all but ourselves. In our patriarchal society, women are the ones who do the large majority of the unpaid work - the childcare, the housework, the food shop, the caring responsibilities. Chances are, if you grew up identifying as a girl, you saw many women in your life, working incredibly hard for little to no money.
And so, it is understandable to think that my decision to be a CIC has been born from this place of social conditioning. And it’s natural, and kind of people to question me on it. Setting this company up has exposed me to so many brilliant women, earning large sums of money and charging their full worth. And I really do applaud that.
But here’s the thing, this community is important. It is based around healing, important healing and free services are so stretched and so limited and waiting times are so long. And the majority of people - especially in light of the cost of living crisis - can’t afford the full price of my full worth. They can’t pay the amount needed for me to cover my costs and also bring in an acceptable hourly rate. And I don’t believe that should mean that they can’t get help.
Where the money comes from matters
The most recent World Inequality Report (1) shows that the richest 10% of people own 52% of the global wealth. This is in stark contrast to the poorest 10% of people who only have access to 8.5% of it. And, since 1995, the amount of wealth owned by billionaires has grown from 1 to 3%. That is an insane amount of money which will provide an insane amount of personal freedom and choice in a world where so many people don’t have suitable access to healthcare. Or food. Or clean water. Or shelter.
Yes, lots of those people donate lots of their money - but they get to choose, right? The truth is, there is enough money out there for everyone to have everything they need. But it’s being handed out on the whim and the will of a tiny proportion of people, most of whom have no clue how the majority live.
Don’t get me wrong, I agree that the more, heart-led, soul-led women in charge of more of that wealth, can only be a good thing. I want, more than anything to see more of the global wealth out of the hands of old white men and into the hands of brilliant, passionate, empathetic women. But, when you’re charging people for your services - who are you taking the money from? It’s not the white men with all the money who are paying you.
Following this age old business model will only get us so far. Yes, if you adopt it, if you charge more, we’re going to end up with more women holding more of that money. Great. But at the continued expense and suffering of those at the very bottom. And that simply does not work for me.
So I’m going to try something new. And being set up as a CIC will mean that I can access some of that ‘old white man’ money sat in ‘charitable’ pots whilst still serving those who need it most. And who have access to the least. It means that the choice for where this money comes from and goes to doesn’t start and end with me. It’s not me choosing how philanthropic I want to be or which charities and projects I want to support. It’s hopefully me, taking the money I need from the too-rich people, helping everyone else, whilst living a happy and comfortable life.
And that’s a society I can get behind.
That’s a society I want to help build.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk 😆