5 Minutes With… JJ Ramberg

JJ Ramberg is the host of MSNBC’s Sunday morning small business show, “Your Business.” Before joining MSNBC, Ramberg was a reporter at CNN, where she covered a wide range of topics.

She began her television career at NBC News, where she was an associate producer at “Dateline NBC.” In addition to reporting on small business, Ramberg is a small business owner herself. Daria Meoli recently spoke with JJ about the business she started with her brother, Ken, and social entrepreneurship.

Daria Meoli: You and your brother, Ken Ramberg, started Good Search in 2005. What was the idea behind that business?

JJ Ramberg: We wanted to figure out a way for people to be able to support their favorite causes without spending extra time and money. People don’t always have that extra time and money to support charities, even if they care about them deeply. That’s much more the case now than it was when we started in 2005. When we saw how much money search engines were making, we thought we could redirect some of that money to good causes.

My brother and I both have experience with small Internet businesses. He ran Job Track, a very successful company that became the largest online career center destination for college and university students, which he sold to Monster.com. Right after I got my MBA from Stanford, I worked for an Internet startup. We both have this entrepreneurial experience, and we both have been involved in philanthropy, so we created something to combine those two things.

DM: Do you have any tips for business owners who are interested in becoming more involved with social entrepreneurship, even though their business model does not center on philanthropy?

JR: My company is based on the whole idea of social entrepreneurship, but there are so many things any company can do. You can work with causes in your community, and help your employees support causes that they care about; for example, you can give them time off to work with charity, or to help raise small donations. You can give a percentage of your profit away. There are so many little things that you can do to help the world and change the ethos of your company without changing the focus of your company.

DM: Besides the benefit to the causes you help, what are the benefits of social entrepreneurship to your own business?

JR: Studies have found that more than 80% of employees say they prefer to work at a place that is socially responsible or has a corporate responsibility, and the majority of people say they would rather buy from a company that’s more socially responsible.