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.

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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.

 

Read the full story at Forbes.com

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.

New Charity Invites Female Millionaires To Donate — And Get Involved

There’s a lot of talk about helping the girls and women of the developing world, but there’s not a lot of money to back it up.

According to a 2014 report from the United Nations Population Fund, “less than two cents [of] every international development dollar is spent on an adolescent girl.”

The Maverick Collective hopes to change that breakdown. It’s a philanthropic organization that was publicly launched this week at the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen. Its 14 members, all women, have each contributed at least $1 million to fund a specific project in the developing world that tackles a women’s health issue: domestic violence, maternal health, cervical cancer. The goal is to come up with projects that get good results, then build them up to a bigger scale.

And it’s not just about writing a check. Each donor is involved with the project she is sponsoring. The women have traveled to the countries where the project is going on and are tracking its progress.

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The group’s CEO is Kate Roberts, who was a top advertising executive before becoming senior vice president of the nonprofit PSI — Population Services International. The co-chairs are Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, who is also the co-founder, and Melinda Gates. (As our readers may know, the Gates Foundation is a funder of NPR.)

We spoke with Roberts in Copenhagen to learn more about this new organization. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Read the full story on NPR.

This Idaho-Based Eyewear Company Is A Small Business With A Global Reach

Three brothers run Proof Eyewear.  In 2010, they started with $5,000 each, working from a garage-cum-office. Today, they’re an Idaho success story selling their glasses in over 20 countries around the world.

“You probably don’t think of Boise when you think of innovative start ups,” says COO Tanner Dame.

But Proof is proud of its Idaho roots.  “We really love our town and where we’re rooted is a big part of it,” says Tanner.

Looking to reinvent the eyewear industry, the three Dame brothers, Taylor, Brook, and Tanner, are experimenting with different materials for both prescription and sunglasses, and giving back to the global and local community.

In 2009, they concocted the idea of a wooden eyewear brand.  A year later, they jumped in, launching Proof.  “This was way before wooden eyeglasses were trendy,” says Tanner.  “Till then there had been only a handful of companies producing wooden frames, some of them dating back to the ’60s in California and others being more like art than fashion.”

Read the full story at Forbes.com.