In 2006, Virginia Bruce, a social entrepreneur with over 25 years experience as an international brand and business developer, was approached to turn the Hands That Shape Humanity exhibition into a global brand.
Virginia Bruce is currently the CEO of the REAL Group, a collective of businesses focused on realising the positive potential of people, business, brands and communities through the harnessing of design and creativity and for the past 7 years, she has invested significant funds and time in developing Hands That Shape Humanity into a social enterprise that crosses media, education, arts, retail and design.
Following is an interview with Virginia Bruce on the vision behind the brand, the role of creativity in developing an inspiring social enterprise, and Virginia’s personal message for humanity, inspiring ordinary people to achieve the extraordinary.
+ The R.E.A.L Group aims to merge profit and philanthropy into a sustainable business model. In which ways does this approach redefine both the traditional business model, as well as the traditional charity model?
The R.E.A.L Group aims to merge profit and philanthropy into the DNA of it’s business model. This means that there is equal emphasis on creating both social and economic value. Respecting the importance of both, and realising that in today’s world we need to evolve and improve both business and charity models so that they are more sustainable and relevant.
If we can create businesses that, in their normal operations, are able to create a positive social impact while not compromising on quality and delivery of products and services then we are creating a win-win for everyone.
It is understanding how we are all connected, how we all have different needs and desires, and architecting the business in a way that addresses these. For some it is employment to empower them and allow them to move out of poverty, we do this through providing mentoring, education and opportunity. For others it is about a high end designer product that is hand crafted and has a history for their home. For our charity partners it is about fund raising, for our retail partners it is about selling desirable products.
+ What is the role of creativity in your vision for a new business model?
Creativity, and creative people is what and who I have worked with my entire career. Creativity is the imaginations’ ability to create original ideas and I am constantly inspired to see this process at work. I see creativity as a visceral force for change when combined with the knowledge that infinite possibilities exist within each and every one of us, an intent to make a positive impact, and the business acumen to architect this inspiration to create social and economic value.
Also the language of creativity is visual and its ability to communicate to people happens in an instant – for some reason people can see something and just ‘get it’. With creativity we can create seamless communication, and give communities and individuals a voice.
+ What is the role of the individual?
I believe that the greatest impact we can make in the world is through finding our authentic selves, embracing all that we are and walking the path that we are born to, in love, integrity and truth, and this is possibly the hardest thing to achieve. For the 7 billion people on the planet this is a unique and individual journey. This inspires me. In taking this journey personally for most of my adult life I feel a sense of compassion and connectedness to this aspect of individuals and would love to be able to assist, engage, inspire and facilitate people, businesses and communities to realise their potential and in the process realise my own. We talk about the journey from self, to others, to society, humanity and beyond, what I think is different in what we do is that we insist on including the essence of any individual we work with in our process. Like concentric circles – everything radiates from the inside out.
+ How do you envisage Hands might keep evolving over the next few years?
I would still like to see us relaunch the Hands That Shape Humanity Exhibition and tour it globally. To do this we need financial backing either by like minded social investors or sponsors. We are also working on a TV Documentary series called ‘INSPIRE’; Our consulting arm is looking to expand in the area of social and economic value creation both with not for profit and for profit organizations. With The SEAT Project we are looking to roll this out to Primary Schools nationally, and to find distribution partners Internationally
+ Virginia, if you could leave one message for humanity, what would it be?
My message for humanity is to live inspired, with passion and purpose, and in the process walk lightly on this planet with love, care and compassion in your heart for yourself and others. This journey of walking our path is often not easy, and can be met with resistance from ourselves and others, but don’t let this stop you, have courage and know that infinite possibilities truly exist within each and every one of us.