Michael E. ParkerWhile there’s no question that finding a way to give back is a meaningful experience, it’s worth noting the particular benefits of getting involved with charitable work from the perspective of an entrepreneur.


Marcus Samuelsson and Harlem Helps

Marcus Samuelsson, the Head Chef and owner of popular Harlem-based restaurant Red Rooster was interviewed by Inc. magazine and shared his own unique perspective on how charity can and should fit into the vision of an entrepreneur or business owner.

Recently Samuelsson hosted a benefit to support the efforts of Harlem Helps – for the families that suffered as a result of the recent murders at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Samuelsson said that, “As a restaurant owner in the community, I feel it’s integral to provide a platform for people to gather and show their support. We have the ability to bring people together to show support, and thus a responsibility to the community and to the families to do so, to help in the face of this adversity.”

Know Yourself, Know Your Customer

Although this is a very specific cause and a unique neighborhood with a historically significant past, the ideas that Samuelsson presents translate to much broader contexts for all entrepreneurs. Regardless of the venture, product or service that you are promoting as an entrepreneur, knowing your customers is key. Samuelsson is well aware of his restaurant’s place within the immediate community of Harlem. The restaurateur noticed that this particular tragedy struck close to home for many of his patrons and for people living in Harlem.  Realizing the importance of responding to this tragedy, Samuelsson joined right in and acted accordingly.

Ask Yourself The Important Questions

When considering what charities or causes to support and how to get involved, not only do you need to know your customers, but you need to understand the way that your company fits into their lives. When rallying around a particular philanthropic or charitable cause, what can your service or product offer to your customers that will be most beneficial to them in relation to that cause? You can also come at this from the perspective of truly knowing your company’s strengths. What does your company do best? How does your product or service relate to a cause that speaks to your customers? Figure out a way to offer a great solution using the tools that you already have in place. This ensures that your clients will find true value in your charitable offerings, but it also means that you will be equipped to deliver whatever it is you are volunteering.

Help Your Customers Help Others

Whether you choose to develop an ongoing relationship with a specific charitable organization, or you come up with a way to get involved with a very specific cause, it’s not only a chance for you to help others, but it’s also a way to act in solidarity with your customers and show that you both respect and reflect their values.