Why This Outdoor Brand Is Hiring Individuals With Disabilities

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When it comes to the bottom line, mission-driven companies consider the 3 P’s: planet, people, and profit. While the first ‘p,’ planet, with a focus on producing more eco-friendly products has taken off, the second ‘p,’ people, can sometimes get lost.

That’s why Toad & Co CEO Gordon Seabury developed several programs to employ and support individuals with developmental or physical disabilities. “I thought we could lead in sustainable business practices but realized pretty quickly there were other larger outdoor brands already focused there. Our leadership role [would be] to introduce a social mission to the industry. No one was focused on the People part of Planet, People, Profit.”

The Santa Barbara-based outdoor brand uses a packing warehouse in Chicago where they employ 4 individuals with developmental disabilities. Twenty years ago, when Toad & Co started the program, Seabury was inspired by Ben & Jerry’s. At the time, the iconic ice cream company had a bakery in Brooklyn that made cookies and brownies for their ice cream. The employees were recently released inmates and the program was focused on providing meaningful work training to reduce recidivism. Ben & Jerry’s had partnered with Search, Inc. to identify the employees.

“As far as I know, we were one of the first for profit/ not-for-profit joint ventures of its kind in the developmentally disabled community,” Seabury says.

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Women-Led Trekking Company Challenges Social Norms In Nepal

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In Nepal, a social enterprise is employing a for-profit and nonprofit hybrid model to finance the country’s first and only women-led trekking agency. 

Note, Nepal is ranked as one of the worst countries to be a female, and sits on the bottom of the Human Development Index, which measures for quality of life and the chance to improve one’s socio-economic status. Hence, to have a women-centric business, financed and led by women, is no small feat.

In the 1990s, three sisters, Lucky, Dicky and Nicy, from Darjeeling, India relocated to Pokhara in Nepal to start a guesthouse for visitors.  Quickly they learned that only Nepalese men were taking foreigners into the Himalayas on treks.  This posed a challenge for female travelers — and even some allegations of abuse surfaced. So the trio started Three Sisters Adventure Trekking where women would lead other women on treks in Nepal.

Instead of just running a business that pairs up foreigners with female Nepali guides, they also set up a non-profit called Empowering Women of Nepal, or EWN. The non-profit provides six months of free training to Nepali women interested in learning about mountaineering and the outdoors. To date more than 2,000 women from around the country have done the training program and many have continued on to become guides for the for-profit trekking business.

“Whether or not these women go on to become a guide, we feel it is a seed planted for them and future generations. We demonstrate that women are mentally, physically and emotionally as strong as men,” Lucky says.

Read the full story on Forbes.com.

Holiday Gift Guide That Goes Beyond Deals: 15 Brands That Leave A Long-Term, Social Impact

Black Friday means long lines, parking nightmares, and sub-par deals. Yet a new crop of entrepreneurs, more suited for Small Business Saturday than the insanity of Black Friday, are offering more than just deals.  Here’s a holiday gift guide that doesn’t require a trip to mall and supports a new kind of economy — driven by equity and empathy as well as profit.

See the full list at Forbes.com.

How To Start A Business With No Contacts And Little Money: American Lawyer Launches Shoe Brand

A former California lawyer and television host, Michael Paratore started a shoe business with no supply chain, no formal funding, and no contacts in the business. That too, sourcing from the villages of India.

Paratore’s story is movie material. In 2012, after having worked at a law firm for nearly two years, post a career in television at Current TV, Paratore was ready for something else. “It was now or never,” he says.

With no children at the time and a supportive wife (who had a full-time salary), he began on a journey to turn a beloved leather sandal, made by artisans in villages on the outskirts of Kolhapur, into a business.

Read the full story at Forbes.com

Food and Politics: Why This American Entrepreneur Wants To See A Conflict Zone Aisle at Whole Foods

Amit Hooda wants to see a conflict zone area in Whole Foods. No, it’s not a playground for adults to break out in food fights. Rather, it’s an aisle devoted to food companies, sourcing from conflict areas of the world — a way for refugees, and victims of political conflict to earn a living while providing nuts, seeds, grains and more. In Hooda’s case, it’s all about honey.

Heavenly Organics procures honey from wild hives in Northern and Central India and the Himalayan region. Photo Courtesy of Subject.

The Iowa-based entrepreneur and co-founder of Heavenly Organics grew up in India in the 1980s, an era filled with stories of Maoist violence throughout the country. Naxalites ate up the headlines back in those days, Hooda recalls. Families were told to keep their girls inside the home, protect them from being harassed or kidnapped. “Yet, why were these men engaging in violence? They were incentivized to create violence in villages and towns across the country. You made money by robbing people because someone stuck a gun in your hand and told you to do,” he says in a phone interview.

While India’s history of Maoist uprisings is contentious and long-standing, Hooda was less interested in playing policymaker, and more so in learning about the root cause of such politically-charged violence: poverty, and lack of jobs or opportunities.

Read the full story at Forbes.com.

How This Coffee Entrepreneur Is Overcoming Hurdles To Build A Mission-Driven Company

Around the world, coffee shops have become meeting points for “urban tribes,” creative types, freelancers, and pour-over junkies. In India, though, running a coffee business is still a tricky pursuit, riddled with challenges.

Blue Tokai, which I reported on last year in Delhi, was trying to bring that global coffee culture to India by freshly roasting beans, sourcing from single estate farms, offering organic varieties, and educating north Indians on Aeropress, Chemex, and French Press brewing techniques– a new language for a region that lives on chai and instant coffee.

Since their mail order business took off, Blue Tokai founders, Matt Chitharanjan and Namrata Asthana, opened a cafe in South Delhi last year.  The approach to the coffee shop is a bit tricky, especially for non-locals: down a few alleyways, off the main road, Blue Tokai sits in a village within the city.

 

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Social Enterprise Accelerator Solvey Gets Over 3 Million Views On YouTube

In May, I met YouTubers Dave Erasmus and Louis Cole in Delhi.  They were on their third stop on a fast-paced world tour called Solvey, to find entrepreneurial individuals, interested in giving back and solving problems in their home countries.

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Erasmus, a serial entrepreneur, and Cole, a travel vlogger on YouTube with a massive global fan following, hit 8 cities in 30 days. Two months later, I spoke to Erasmus, now back home in England, to see what the results were of that mega trip.

“I’ve finally recovered from my travels.  Today, I woke up with a spring in my step,” he says, laughing.

That’s one month after their whirlwind tour ended.  While it may have been ruthless on their bodies, it did yield the results they were hoping for: 145 people applied from around world and that too across generations (ages 12 to 67).  Plus, the vlogs garnered over 3 million views on YouTube.

Read the full story on Forbes.