Ravinol Chambers says businesses can make a difference and create a positive social impact. His company Be Inspired Films is dedicated to working with those who share these ideals
Capitalism all too often gets a bad press. Stories of corporate indulgence, tax avoidance and companies placing profit over people, display businesses in a poor light. However, for most actively involved in business, it is a positive thing – providing jobs, increasing wealth, prosperity and aiding progress in general. There have been numerous attempts to highlight businesses better attributes; corporate social responsibility (CSM) policies have been used with mixed success. Others have created social enterprises, however finding a half-way house between business and charity is no easy feat. So how much good can business really do?
For Ravinol Chambers, founder of Be Inspired Films, business can make a big difference by working with charities and third sector providers, or establishing their own social impact-focused projects. His business produces films and promos for such projects, as well as live broadcasting and training for organisations that want to make videos themselves. “Videos are tools. Just because it’s about social or charity issues they need to be look professional to have the right impact,” Chambers says.
Prior to founding his business the Dublin-born entrepreneur spent several years working for charities in India and Africa, before returning home to work on new projects here. “It was rewarding on many levels, but I didn’t make much money,” he laughs. He completed an MBA at Aston University and undertook a dissertation in ‘venture philanthropy’. He says it inspires his business thinking to this day and wants to partner with organisations that share his vision. “Venture capitalists are focused on profit. I want to use VC thinking and apply to socially driven organisations. It’s one of the biggest growing areas around, creating financial returns and social benefits. We are not a social enterprise, as many of these don’t make profit and spend their time chasing funding. I think you have to make a profit if it is going to be sustainable.”
The Digbeth-based company was founded in 2009 and Chambers began networking to raise awareness of his project. Chambers says this has been very effective and he hasn’t made any direct sales calls since he began – word of mouth is very effective. Nonetheless, Be Inspired has notched up an impressive client list, including Deutsche Bank, Nesta and Midland Heart among many others. “Once a business makes a decision to do something, it can happen very quickly and a project can have a very significant social impact. People in these companies are usually very excited to be doing these projects, as it’s often more interesting than their normal day-to-day jobs,” says Chambers.
Good examples of Be Inspired’s work include the ‘Born to Be’ video, which accompanies Deutsche Bank’s work with Sported, an organisation which helps young people improve their education through sport. The company also made an impressive video entitled ‘The Confident City of Birmingham’, for the Birmingham Young Professional of the Year (BYPY) awards. It made an impact on the city’s business community who doubtless liked the way it portrayed the city. “When we did the BYPY video we got a lot of calls from businesses. But we only do work that fits with our ethos.”
The company’s biggest success to date was the recording and broadcasting of the Tedx ‘Albertropolis’ event, held at the Royal Albert Hall in London in September this year. The prestigious event involved 12 speakers discussing the relationship between art and science. “It doesn’t get much bigger or better than broadcasting from the Royal Albert Hall,” says Chambers.
Chambers says his young company is growing nicely and has big ambitions. He says he would love to work for the UN or an Olympic committee. “I’d love to get a commission from the UN or an Olympic committee and tell the kind of stories that don’t get told,” he says.