Public Benefit Corporation Statement
On November 1st, 2017, ELIA Life Technology, Inc. became a public benefit corporation (PBC). Shareholders and the board of directors voted unanimously for the change to the new for-profit corporate status.
Being a PBC enables the company to pursue and generate profits, while also investing in its social mission – to enable people who are blind or have a visual impairment to obtain full educations and employment, and maintain their literacy and independence. We believe that by investing in the well-being of our customers, we can change the economic dynamics of the our community.
Part of that effort will be building an ecosystem of products and services that helps the community achieve more. Like a traditional company, we will build and sell assistive hardware, software, and curriculum that enable our customers to achieve more. And those products will generate a profit. We will also provide assistive services that require the collaboration of stakeholders. These services will build a more fertile foundation for our products and result in gains for our customers. They may require a long-term investment that our shareholders understand is building this foundation for greater sustainable growth and impact.
For example, by teaching people the ELIA Frames Font and providing them with tools to enjoy its benefits, they can maintain and build high literacy skills. Skills that they need to compete in their educations and the workforce. ELIA Frames can also enable them to use literacy to live more independently day-to-day, minute-to-minute – because we all use the alphabet for basic daily tasks. Research shows that hundreds of millions of people who have a visual impairment and don’t use a tactile alphabet have average rates of employment, education, and independence that are equal to sighted people who have low literacy skills or are illiterate. We believe that that is unacceptable and unnecessary. The technology and tools exist to change this status quo.
By becoming a PBC, we can bring literacy back to our customers. That will require our company’s efforts and those of non-profit organizations, government agencies, and for-profits companies. As a PBC, we can partner with those organizations more easily, because we can more easily share common goals and commit to actions that a purely for-profit company could not. Our hypothesis is that if we focus on the well-being of our customers, and collaborate with other organizations, we can swiftly change the economic and social dynamics of our customers. From a company-profits and value perspective, we also hypothesize that by focusing on the well-being of our customers (not pure profits), we will better understand what they need and be more capable of creating great products to serve those needs. With that understanding we can build a more profitable company, one whose brand is recognized as a leader and a trusted partner. By being a PBC, we have the leeway to pursue social benefits and long-term profits. Pursuing a less balanced approach would result in less of both.