Over the past five years I have had the great pleasure of speaking with over 300 social entrepreneurs while running Causeartist. It has been a real pleasure to watch many of these startups grow into companies and scale without losing their focus on the impact.
Just in this past year we have seen several great social entrepreneurs and social impact brands reach amazing milestones.
- LSTN headphones signing a major partnership deal with Delta Airlines.
- Bangs Shoes reaching over $1 million in sales.
- Tentree reached over 18 million trees planted.
- Charity Charge cardholders surpassed $2 million dollars in spend.
- MADI Apparel’s 2017 sales increased 35% from 2016 with a 2nd storefront location coming in 2018.
- UpEffect has now helped 16 companies get funded. Total funds raised is £220,000+
- SOLO Eyewear reached a Major Milestone: Restoring Vision to 15,000 people
The shift in the traditional spending habits has begun. More and more consumers are caring about how and where products are made, who makes them and how they will impact our environment. According to a Nielson Global Corporate Sustainability Report, 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a socially conscious brand. Millennials gave an even higher mark at 73%.
Social impact investing is also starting to get into the mix at a larger scale. In 2012 the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment reported $3.31 trillion in US assets held by 443 institutional investors and 272 money managers.
One of the most interesting parts about social impact investing is the returns investors are seeing. A 2015 Report by Morgan Stanley indicated that sustainable investing funds have actually met or exceeded the median returns of traditional equity funds. The report also made an excellent point about volatility.
The report states that 72 percent of the companies surveyed with a social impact purpose showed higher profitability and lower volatility. This is important to note, because where there is low volatility and growth in a certain sector, big sums of money tend to pour in.
As Millennials start to gain more equity in the marketplace, the social impact sector is guaranteed to grow. 90% of Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause, so why wouldn’t Millennials switch to investments with these same values as well? With these numbers social impact investing is poised to be a huge trend.
As more aspiring social entrepreneurs come into the marketplace, it’s important to look and what problems your company wants to solve. The most intriguing thing for social entrepreneurs(and entrepreneurs in general) to understand is that solving problems can be very lucrative. Don’t be afraid or make apologies for doing good and making money. That ideology needs to change.
Without further I do, I am please to introduce the 36 Social Entrepreneurs to watch for in 2018. This was a challenging list to create, because there are so many incredible social purpose initiatives happening around the world. We are thrilled to see what they will accomplish in this new year. Of course there will be amazing social entrepreneurs and innovators not on this list, these are just the individuals over the past year that I see doing incredible things and building ethical and sustainable companies.
I hope you enjoy the list and have a great new year.
Graphics Made with Canva.
Joy McBrien is a global learner who is passionate about creating opportunities for women and girls. She is the Founder and CEO of Fair Anita, a social enterprise that strives to build a more inclusive economy for women by providing economic opportunity and dignified jobs through beautiful fair trade jewelry and accessories. She has worked with thousands of women around the world, using her empathetic nature to understand circumstances and develop creative solutions, including having built a battered women’s shelter in Peru and working at a girl-focused middle school in St. Paul.
Joy has been recognized for her leadership in this space, awards including: Top Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans 2015, Open Hands Initiative Fellow 2016, Minnesota Business Magazine’s 35 Entrepreneurs Under 35, and the Real Power 50 Award.
Joy is part of the Global Shapers community, and was chosen to represent women’s issues at the World Economic Forum’s conference on Overcoming Social and Economic Exclusion with His Holiness Pope Francis, as well as lead a session on gender equity at the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit. In her spare time, she dances with Out On A Limb Dance Company, having played roles like Frankenfurter in Rocky Horror Picture Show and Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.
Andrea is an Italian young man trying to leave a positive impact in the world. Born in 1993 in Laigueglia, a small seaside town in the western Italian coast, he packed his stuff right after highschool and moved to Paris, in order to study at the Paris ESLSCA Business School, start working as a “green broker” and invest in renewable energies. During the last year of university, though, he understood that he was not supposed to follow the Wall Street path, but rather creating something on his own. Soon enough that “something on his own” became “Something that could really impact the world!” and ended up creating his first entrepreneurial project, Elliot For Water. Elliot For Water is just like Google, the difference is, it creates water every time you search. With this project he’s on the mission to bring safe drinking water to 1 million people by 2025. To follow his travel read his blog, elliotsway.com.
Rory and Jeff Rogan are the brothers and founders of BE Outfitter. BE is an active lifestyle company which creates thoughtful goods that bridge the gap between existing and living. First inspired after a trip to Sub-Saharan Africa and being introduced to the global plight of education, Rory decided he wanted to try and make a difference. The brothers teamed up with Non Profit, The African Education Program, and started creating backpacks that helped to sponsor education for children in Zambia. Their idea, give $10 from every bag sold towards sponsoring education. In 2016 after years of operating as a side hustle Rory and Jeff went all in and worked to create a brand and products designed for the modern adventurer. BE released their first products, The Tahquitz Pack and Cabrillo Dry Bag, last spring raising over $140,000 in Crowdfunding with the underlying goal to inspire others through the gear they are creating and the experiences that are created by that gear.
Be on the look out as they plan on launching a second Kickstarter to fund a new incredibly versatile product that they believe will help to extend their giveback program. When asked how they got to where they are Rory replied, “Building a dream will test the timbers of your being. It will break you down. But, if you are truly passionate about something and if you fully believe in the reason you are doing it…in the “why”. You can make or do anything. You just have to trust your heart…. Also, Dream Really Big.” Partnering with the African Education Program, BE has helped to sponsor roughly 26 children, provide over 7,020 meals and raise over $5,000 for child education.
Aubrie Canfield is a filmmaker by training, an entrepreneur by experience and a traveler by choice. She is the co-founder of Actuality Media, an international service-learning organization that provides experiential education for storytellers. Aubrie was inspired to launch this organization as a way to pair emerging filmmakers with global changemakers and create documentary films that tell stories that matter. A product of a homeschooled early education, Aubrie graduated from the University of Miami with an emphasis on motion pictures and theater arts. She has traveled to dozens countries around the world but currently lives in her childhood home in Orlando, Florida with her family. Her current fascinations include: the art of persuasion, forest schools, and social justice in an era where facts don’t matter. She is in a constant battle between always wanting to start something new and a deep longing for the simple life.
Cullen Schwarz is cofounder and “Chief of Good Thoughts” for DoneGood. A native Michigander and recovering congressional aide (formerly serving as a senior communications advisor to members of Congress and in the Obama Administration), Cullen turned to startup life to avoid wearing suits every day. Cullen was a philosophy major and lives by the teachings of Camus, de Beauvoir and the Dude. He’s passionate about people using the most powerful tool they have to create change—the dollars they spend. When he retires he plans to “move to the jungle to write books.”
Scott Jacobsen is cofounder of DoneGood. Prior to DoneGood, Scott worked for the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D.C. where he helped lead national campaigns for children’s health coverage, gun violence prevention, and to dismantle America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline. A graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School and former fellow of Harvard’s Ash Center for Democratic Innovation, Scott now brings his organizing and marketing skills developed over a career in politics and non-profits to help galvanize the growing conscientious consumer movement.
A Los Angeles native and social justice junkie, Jacob Allen is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of pilotED Schools, an emerging social identity-centered charter school network. pilotED Schools believes children living in urban environments need to be afforded the opportunity to explore topics such as race, gender, class, and other social issues in an effort to develop lasting civic engagement mindsets and academic success. As the organization’s CEO, Jacob believes offering such a liberal arts education at a young age will not only lead their ground-breaking elementary schools to the top but lead forgotten voices and communities to uncharted arenas. His push for a better tomorrow is clear: build identity-empowering schools and change policy affecting our country’s most vulnerable children. Jacob’s passion for social justice and equity has routinely been at the center of both his educational and professional worlds—and it began when he served as the first Youth President for the NAACP of Wisconsin. Jacob is a graduate of the University of Washington and the Kellogg School of Management. Earlier in 2017 he was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List and is currently an Echoing Green Fellow, Mind Trust Fellow, and a former Camelback Ventures Fellow.
Pella Christina Papachristou is the Design Director of PCP Clothing, the unisex label that was founded in 2014 in Greece. After finishing her degree in Fashion and Textile Design, she decided to join the family business in clothing manufacturing and start her own label. PCP Clothing has developed into an international brand, that has surpassed all expectations in an otherwise difficult time for the country. Beginning in the city of Thessaloniki, PCP Clothing now has an international online presence. What started off as a university project, has now become the inspiration to the modern 80’s themed leggings, clothing line, and accessories that are beating all odds during an economic crisis.
Packed with lots of glitter, PCP Clothing’s designs will allow an effortless transition from day, to gym, to an evening of Midori cocktails with friends. Through PCP Clothing, Papachristou is determined to make the world a better place in any way she can. From bringing a smile on a child’s face through the surprises she personally adds to the children’s packaging, to remaining integral to her ethical values, one can’t help but fall in love with both the brand and the family behind it.
“When your work is rewarding,” says Papachristou, “it is your responsibility to contribute back to society. That’s why we love glitter so much: through spreading our #glitteranarchy we spread magic to the world.”
Rafik studied and worked in Canada, Egypt, Germany, England, and Tanzania on issues related to poverty, environment, climate change, and tourism policies in developing countries. He worked with overseas development agencies as well as with central and local governments on policy design and project implementation. Out of a belief in the role social enterprises can play in advancing social justice and reducing inequalities, Rafik founded “Buy Good. Feel Good.” in 2014. His mission is to support socially-driven businesses and raise awareness about the fair trade and ethical consumption.
Sebastiaan is a sideways thinker, professional dreamer and DIY entrepreneur. Sebastiaan is the founder of w.r.yuma and recently launched world’s first 3D printed sunglasses from plastic waste. The startup is on a mission to kickstart a future where waste is a concept of the past.
Jehiel Oliver is the founder and CEO of Hello Tractor, an agricultural technology company that connects tractor owners with smallholder farmers through the use of innovative software and data analytics. At Hello Tractor he is responsible for overall management and strategy. He has been honored with numerous awards for his work in social entrepreneurship including being recognized by Foreign Policy Magazine as a Top 100 Global Thinker for 2016. He was appointed under the Obama Administration to serve two years as a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa, where he currently chairs the technology subcommittee. Prior to Hello Tractor, Oliver worked in consulting and investment banking. He currently lives with his wife and daughter between Abuja, Nigeria and Washington, DC.
Eugene began his career as a suit on Bay Street. Through that avenue he found himself as an executive at a large national company selling coffee products where he quickly noticed two things: 1) Single-serve coffee pods such as Keurig and Tassimo had become very popular and 2) These pods were creating an enormous amount of waste with no solution in sight. At the time, he and his best friend, Evan, were working side by side. One night over a couple of beers the idea of GoJava was born as a solution to this dilemma and his entrepreneurial spirit took flight. Eugene is the team’s leader and also the resident Buddha. The words you’ll hear him say most often are: “I’m not worried about it.”
Evan started his career in Marketing and Project Management. While working as the project manager alongside Eugene Ace (who also happened to be his longtime BFF) at the aforementioned national company, the same issue that was bugging Eugene (the issue of millions of coffee pods going to landfill and producing methane gasses contributing to global warming) was keeping Evan up at night. They decided there was no time to waste (pun intended). So the two friends left the corporate world to join forces against the coffee pod dilemma. Sort of like The Avengers. But in eco-friendly, brown kraft-coloured costumes.
Claire Coder is the 20-year-old founder and CEO of Aunt Flow (goauntflow.com). Committed to ensuring everyone has access to menstrual products, Coder dropped out of college to pursue Aunt Flow. The social enterprise now stocks over 100 companies and schools with freely accessible menstrual products ranging from Viacom, Jeni’s Ice Creams, and Bark Box to Stanford and Brown University. They have donated over 125,000 menstrual products to menstruators in need in the USA. Fun Facts: Claire Coder starred on Season 1 of TLC’s Girl Starter, designed a bag for Vera Bradley that sold out in 24 hours, and was blind in the fourth grade. When Claire is not talking about menstruation, she is jamming out to Macklemore and looking forward to the day she is on Ellen.
Luc Berlin is a Social Entrepreneur, Marketing Executive and currently the Founder and CEO of Miigle+, a social impact technology company on a mission to turn 100% of consumerism into a force for social good by helping people discover sustainable brands and shop more ethically. Prior to founding Miigle, Luc spent the past 10 years leading digital marketing initiatives and revenue growth for B2B and B2C companies in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, including Shopzilla, LegalZoom.com, CrownPeak and HackerRank. Luc studied Biochemistry at UCLA and holds a Bachelors of Science in Management and MBA in Global Business, both from Pepperdine University.
About Miigle+ : Miigle+ is a social impact technology company on a mission to turn consumerism into cause-sumerism. Our AI-enabled e-commerce platform makes it easier for ethically conscious consumers to discover, shop and support products from socially conscious and environmentally friendly brands.
Jaron Soh is Co-founder and Mission Chief at Artisan & Fox, an ethical online marketplace connecting artisans in developing regions to mindful consumers worldwide.
After a chance meeting with Nepali silversmiths in the aftermath of an earthquake that struck the Himalayas in 2015, Soh discovered a world of rare and extraordinary craftsmanship. He was surprised to learn that the artisans he met had never sold online. Realizing the economic and social potential of e-commerce for these micro-enterprises, Soh built a small online store helping 20 Nepalese artisans sell their crafts. The overwhelming enthusiasm from consumers worldwide confirmed his vision. Since then, the social enterprise has grown to help over 200 artisans from Afghanistan to Kenya sell online.
The social enterprise seeks to redefine ethics, transparency and sustainability in the global retail industry. By sharing 50% of its profits with its artisan partners, Soh and his team believe there is a more equitable and honest way to engage with makers in developing regions. The other 50% of profits are then wholly reinvested into discovering more artisans and into pro-bono initiatives. Recently, the team launched ’Threads of Syria’ (https://www.artisanandfox.com/syria/), a not-for-profit project providing Syrian women refugees in Lebanon with income opportunities through home-based work.
Soh is also a Yunus&Youth Global Fellow, Hive Global Leader, and has recently graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with first class honors.
Mike grew up in Pembroke, ON and moved to Toronto, ON in 1999. He graduated from Seneca College in 2003 and started working in the corporate world right away. He spent 10+ years managing projects in the financial and healthcare industries before he left the corporate world behind in 2014 to find a greater purpose in life. Mike’s passion for entrepreneurship and helping people led him down the path to helping launch Tenfed in 2015 with his business partner, Kory McLaughlin. Tenfed is a clothing brand with a social cause behind it – for every Tenfed item sold, 10 meals are provided to hungry children around the world.
Kory grew up in Kincardine, ON and moved to Toronto in 2002. He graduated from Seneca College in 2006. He worked for a brief period in the corporate world before starting his own landscaping company in in 2008. He decided to sell off his landscaping company in 2014 with the vision of building another company that made a massive impact on the world. Kory co-founded Tenfed in August 2015 with his business partner, Mike Wallis, and it was one of the most fulfilling days of his life. Since they launched Tenfed in 2015, they have provided over 70,000 meals to hungry children worldwide.
Jess is the founder and CEO of Headbands of Hope, a company she started as a junior in college in 2012. For every headband sold, a headband is given to a child with cancer. The company has been featured on the TODAY Show, Vanity Fair, Seventeen, Good Morning America and more. But more importantly, they’ve donated over 200,000 headbands to every children’s hospital in the United States and 6 countries. Jess is also a professional speaker, author, and writer for Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post.
Jess was named the Women’s Health Magazine Ultimate Game Changer in 2017 and was also honored as the Most Outstanding Alumni of NC State University. In 2017 she also received the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award from Atlantic BT. A Huffington Post article named her a limit breaking female founder. She also serves on the board of District C to help high school students solve real world problems. Jess is a regular contributor for Entrepreneur, Huffington Post and hosts virtual learning classes with Brit + Co.
Victoria is the founder of SAYA Designs. she created the company out of a deep love of nature, a growing awareness of environmental issues, and a desire to create things with a real story.
The seed for SAYA was planted over a year ago, when Victoria left the UK to live and work remotely in Bali, determined to pursue a more purposeful career. During the first few months on the island, she became increasingly excited about the environmental issues that surrounded her, and began to explore them in more depth.
Victoria also started to read and learn about the circular economy, and how it differs from our current Industrial model. She realised that she could start her own business and become part of it, and in doing so generate a positive impact on the issues she had grown to care about. Victoria was really inspired by this idea!
At SAYA the brand takes waste material and turn it into something beautiful and purposeful, while giving back to those dedicated to protecting our planet. At a time of globalisation, industrialisation, and climate change, being able to put money directly into the pockets of local artisans, to support NGOs, and those going the extra mile to work ethically, is a very powerful thing. SAYA wants to create excitement around these issues, and invite others to join and start taking action themselves.
We first traveled to Ethiopia in 2011 to adopt our daughter, and eventually moved to the capital city of Addis Ababa one year later. While living there, we had the fortune of spending time with organizations working to empower women emerging from the commercial sex industry. Meeting these women and witnessing the amazing, transformative work these organizations were doing deeply moved us.
While living in Ethiopia, I was looking for a birthday gift for Brittany and found an incredible leather bag. The artisans’ craftsmanship was beautiful, and we learned this leather was not only ethically sourced, but some of the highest quality in the world. With this leather in mind, we saw our opportunity to empower vulnerable women through enterprise.
From that chance birthday gift, Parker Clay was born as a luxury lifestyle brand that hand selects the highest quality leather to make timeless products by way of age-old traditional craftsmanship, all while creating opportunities for vulnerable women to become economically independent.
Sean Scott – CO-FOUNDER and CHIEF INSTIGATOR
Sean’s storied 30+ year career in the footwear industry began humbly when he worked at a Fleet Feet in San Francisco where he learned first hand what it takes to make a customer feel like they are getting a true value for their money. From there he began his journey at a variety of footwear companies – NIKE, ASICS, VANS, CIRCA, 2-FISH and most recently TOMS (from the very beginning), where he honed his skills as a footwear designer/developer and more importantly, and industry thought leader. When not instigating change for the better, Sean is a known provocateur of lively and irrelevant conversations. An ardent connoisseur of music, movies and meaningless information, Sean spends his free time promoting his latest finds while cycling the Southern California coast in his matching lycra kit.
Shannon Scott – CO-FOUNDER and CHIEF CATALYST
Shannon marathon of a career (well just a bit more – 27 years) began at ASICS where she learned from its founder, that building a legendary brand can come from something as simple as wanting to rebuild your local community by building shoes to get people to play sports. She worked in several areas of the company to learn everything from the ground up to include apparel and footwear product marketing, brand marketing and international branding strategy. She served as the head of marketing for the Americas as well as a member of an international marketing committee where she honed her skills as a branding and strategy expert. Always striving for perfect harmony in life – whether it be on a yoga mat, the slopes or the sand, Shannon holds an optimistic ‘glass half-full view’ of the world and considers the “Karma Fairy” a personal friend. She’s also committed to being a catalyst of bringing thoughtful people together to change Los Angeles for the better, even if she needs to will it into existence herself.
Ryan Gumienny – CO-FOUNDER and CHIEF CREATIVE GENIUS
Ryan began his 16+ year career journey in the footwear world post graduation from Industrial Design school where he interned at K-Swiss and then in 2005 was recruited by Sean to move from New York to California to work at Circa as a product designer. In addition to trying his hand at having his own design company, Ryan has been a designer at TOMS and Sanuk which helped lay the foundation for his next adventure at COMUNITY where he currently designs and develops all of the brands footwear. As The resident trend spotter, Ryan has an eye for everything new in fashion, fitness and fun. His one blind spot to trends is cars, as he’s out to set a world record for miles driven in his ‘99 Ford Ranger. Ryan is sharing his higher education in shoemaking with the world along with new lingo called “Gummyisms”, not yet approved by Webster Dictionary.
Kayte Torreao da Costa is a highly motivated, results-oriented entrepreneur, technologist and operations manager focusing on planning, execution, and program management of robust, scalable solutions coupled with her proven track record of delivering and managing million dollar programs for fortune 500 companies such as General Electric and Genworth Financial to her own startup, DIVONA. She is a versatile business leader who is adaptable to any business situation from being in the trenches with programmers to the boardroom. Her business experience spans 13 years managing programs globally in technology and operations. Her greatest passions are people, technology, and learning new things. DIVONA, in particular, inspires her due to its underlying mission – impacting the lives of victims of abuse and trafficking through empowerment and identity.”
Mylene Paquin is a creative director and marketing strategist, having owned and operated a film production company for 4 years and produced commercials for the likes of MBNA, Evolv Health, and Silicon Valley startups. She has an innovative vision and excellent coordination skills to see any project through. Inherently philanthropic with a passion for fragrance, she moved away from the film industry and into cosmetics.
After seeing a lack of meaningful results from multiple products claiming to “do good”, she wanted to raise the bar with her perfume company DIVONA. Aiming to start a movement to empower women across the globe, she intends to use a marketing strategy that incorporates both social good and the crowd sourcing power of the Internet. Bringing a perfume line to the public that will deliver social change, she hopes to improve the lives of survivors of abuse and trafficking, one perfume at a time.
Kathy Wong has a degree in visual communications which she used to start three businesses in the area of design branding, marketing and publishing. Kathy is passionate about community, inspiring children to be change makers, loves 80’s music and hates chokes. After retiring for ten years , Kathy has come out of retirement to become a social entrepreneur where she is making a difference to children in poverty with her business Moeloco. Moeloco designs and manufactures a rubber flip flop that leaves positive messages in the sand such as I am peace, be grateful, etc. For every pair sold, Moeloco donate one pair of canvas shoes to a child in need that then allows them to attend school and protect their health.
Moeloco means dream crazy .
Kathy’s vision for a dream crazy world is one where every product or service we purchase has a give back and leaves a positive mark on the world. This change will be driven by today’s youth and Kathy loves inspiring and working with these future change makers.
Hailing from Senegal, Eric thought he had fulfilled his childhood ambitions by pursuing a ten-year long career in banking. Attending business school at UCLA Anderson had the opposite effect of cementing his career in finance, but rather triggered a deep feeling of dissatisfaction and uncertainty about his career trajectory. A year of self-examination led those feelings to be supplanted by a desire to enter the Fashion World.
Introduced to it at an early age by his mother, Eric felt like Fashion alone still would not suffice. Realizing the deep impact that education had on the women of his family socio-economically and culturally, he found it to be a great addition to his first company called Le Dessein. Its mission is to feature artwork by young girls from the Developing World on its fashion, then contribute a quarter of its profits towards their education. Le Dessein has been featured in over 50 online and print articles all over the world.
Eric’s newest venture however addresses economic, political and social disparities domestically. AWOKN is a fashion line that contributes 50% of its profits towards marginalized communities with a slight focus on Women and Girls through partnering with charities. They feature empowering messages on fashion that combine a charity’s mission along with the use of the word WOKE, then contribute half the proceeds to the partnering foundation.
AWOKN is also focused on these other causes: People of Color, and the Muslim & Gay community.
Noora Sharrab obtained her Masters degree in Political Science with a Specialization in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada. For her research, she lived for months in the Palestine refugee camps in Jordan and came to realize the vulnerable demographic of females who were unable to continue their higher education due to socio-economic conditions and cultural taboos.
As a Palestinian woman whose origins are from Gaza, she felt that their overall right to education and empowerment were intrinsically linked to her own. She co-founded an NGO in 2009 called, Hopes for Women in Education (hopesforwomen.org), to provide higher-education scholarships, skills training and online language development (via Banaat Connect – banaatconnect.org) in the process.
She worked for several years with United Nations agencies in Jordan focusing on education, international development and relief services. Her active role working with the refugee communities in Jordan pushed her towards fundraising and building a Women’s Centre in the Gaza Refugee Camp in Jerash, Jordan, which currently employs over 10 refugee women in the process.
In 2013, Noora partnered with Jacqueline Sophia to establish a Social Enterprise, Sitti Soap (www.sittisoap.com) with the purpose to empower refugee women through employment and to help enhance their opportunity to become financially independent and self-sustainable and in turn positively reflect and help their community as a result. Noora believes in the fundamental role every person has to contribute and grow our global communities. She currently resides in Mississauga, Ontario in Canada and is a mother of two.
Brian Poage is a 27 year old social entrepreneur based in Hermosa Beach, California. While he was born in Southern California, Brian spent his childhood moving all over the country before attending college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and graduating with a degree in Construction Management.
He started his professional career working for a large general contractor in San Diego before being transferred to Los Angeles to help build the Wilshire Grand Tower in downtown LA. During this time, Brian and his fiancé, Emily Sansom, were searching for more purpose in their lives. After reading Blake Mycoskie’s book Start Something that Matters they were inspired to start their own company that could help improve the world around them.
After months of brainstorming and research, Aloha for People was born to create new ways to provide clean water and jobs. They created a unique business model by combining Emily’s experience in fashion and apparel with Brian’s experience in project management along with a love of traditional aloha shirts. It all started with aloha shirts made in downtown Los Angeles from fabric hand-woven in Guatemala.
With every shirt sold, Aloha for People provides a child in Guatemala access to clean water for 2 years thanks to their partnership with the water filtration company Ecofiltro. The brand has grown to include t-shirts, tank tops, surf fins, surfboard bags, as well as a line featuring fabric hand-woven in Nepal which includes long sleeve shirts and scarves. With every product sold in the Nepal line, Aloha for People provides a child in Nepal access to clean water for 5 years thanks to their partnership with the non-profit organization Wine To Water. You can see more about Aloha for People’s mission here.
Laura Hertz is the CEO and Co-Founder of Gifts for Good, a Los Angeles-based, online business gifting company with a social impact. Be it for a holiday, conference, client thank you gift, corporate retreat, or first-day- on-the- job branded swag, Gifts for Good has all corporate gifting needs covered. The company offers premium gifts for companies and individuals that are made by nonprofit or social enterprise partners who make and sell their own products to support their mission. More than 40 charitable organizations already participate, generating impact in 19 states and 65 countries around the globe.
During her time with the federal national service program AmeriCorps NCCC, Laura saw firsthand how nonprofits had to be more inventive with fundraising in the aftermath of the financial crisis, but were often dependent on donations, grants and subsidies. Then as an employee within financial services at one of the “Big Four” accounting firms, Hertz noticed how much money was being spent on gifts for employees, clients and leads — and how much of this low quality, meaningless corporate swag ended up in a junk drawer. “I wanted to create a platform for charitable enterprises to reach a greater audience and grow their impact, thereby helping them to become more sustainable” Laura said.
Jukka is the founder of Goodio, a Helsinki, Finland based health food company dedicated to accelerate the positive change in the world. Currently the company is known for their raw chocolates that in a short period of time have found their way to 11 countries and the demand is growing rapidly.
Goodio’s mission is to make the world’s best chocolate. Not because of competition, but because the company knows that there are so many things in the industry that can and should be done a lot better. Jukka feels that most of the market chocolates are products of exploitation and it has been the situation for decades. He thinks that it’s a crime against humanity and nature but instead of waiting for big corporates to change, he wants to show the way with his own actions. He wants to show that it shouldn’t be so difficult to make chocolate that not only tastes good but also does good.
Goodio is optimizing health, bringing radical transparency by starting to use intelligent packaging, hiring people with deficiencies, sourcing from ethical and sustainable sources and basically thinking about the greater good in everything the company does. Goodio is dedicated to fundamental transformation in food business and consumption and hopes that in the near future doing good is the norm for most companies. Jukka really believes that the positive change will happen “because it’s happening all the time”.
Founder of Causeartist // Social Entrepreneur