At eQuip Books we like to refer to ourselves as a business with a conscience. Like any responsible business, we are committed to offering products and services that can be sold to our customers for a profit. But, making a profit isn’t our only goal. And it is definitely not the most important thing we do.
Lots of times, when people think about businesses, they think of them as greedy, impersonal, and only interested in making money. At eQuip Books we are convinced that not all businesses need to be this way. In fact, we think that thoughtful and responsible entrepreneurship can be a powerful force for community development, social change, and personal growth.
At their best, businesses can contribute a sense of purpose and motivation to a community. Responsible businesses can generate a shared identity among their employees, can motivate people to seek self-betterment and education, and can attract new voices to a city. When a community is impoverished, it’s never only the result of lacking economic resources. The truly impoverished community is one that is void of opportunities and connections, experiences and education, purpose and hope.
For a number of years, economic hardship and a lack of dignified work have severely challenged many communities in the western Pennsylvania region. The city of Aliquippa has experienced these challenges first hand over the course of the last several generations. Along with the closing of the steel mills came a steady and widespread rise in unemployment. Along the way, Aliquippa didn’t only lose jobs. It also lost many of the intangible benefits that responsible businesses help to create in a healthy community.
As a self-proclaimed business with a conscience, we have intentionally built socially responsible practices into everything we do. This starts by ensuring that our retail store provides a valuable service to the community. We do this through the quality and scope of products we offer and through the programming and community efforts sponsored by eQuip Books. We also seek to be socially responsible by deliberately creating work opportunities that can be used as sites of training and mentoring. Sure, we want excellent employees and a careful execution of our business objectives, but we are also willing to allow the job site to be a place where learning and growing can occur.
Central to our mission is our focus on empowering local youth. This is why we place such a strong emphasis on our Youth Employment Initiative. By targeting local residents in the 16-25 year old range, we seek to provide employment, training, and mentoring in the critical years between youth and adulthood. In partnership with long-existing non-profit organizations, we are able to identify young men and women who demonstrate potential and promise if given the opportunity to learn and develop skills in a nurturing environment. It is our belief that everyone possesses an innate desire for meaningful work. It is our goal to help local youth identify and cultivate this desire during their time as employees of eQuip Books.
We hope that by fostering this kind of environment, we can offer employment that becomes more than just a way of making money and paying the bills. Ultimately, we want our employees’ abilities and aspirations to exceed the scope of our operations. At eQuip Books we count it as a success when one of our employees leaves to pursue another job or additional education. This is our goal: not just to create jobs, but to create meaningful work that empowers our employees to make informed and deliberate career and life choices.