- Charlot Magayi // Mukuru Clean Stoves
- Fahad Ifaz // iFarmer
- Carlo Mondavi // Monarch Tractor
- Nguzo Ogbodo // Yara Shea Beauty
- Anieke Lamers // Peekabond
- Adam Taubenfligel // Triarchy
- Cherie Hoeger // saalt
- Tony Selvaggio // eSmart Recycling
- Ifi Akpandak // Brava
- Umaimah Mendhro // One League
- Luuk Weber // Kolektivo
- Charley Cummings // Walden Mutual Bank
- Rose Correa // Amazonian SkinFood
- Hasan Siber // Colive
- Kentrell Martin // Shelly’s Adventures
- Ben Jeffreys // ATEC
- Denise Woodard // Partake Foods
- Darko Mandich // MeliBio
- Jim Chu // Untapped Global
- Kimberly Shenk // Novi
- Matthew Kochmann // Transcend
- Shavini Fernando // OxiWear
- Josh Hile // Citizen Mint
- Pauline Idogho // Mocktail Club
- Cory Ames // Grow Ensemble
- Greg G.L. Genco // Generation Conscious
- Eleonore Eisath // beworm
- Christal Earle // Brave Soles
- Jonathan Kumar // Samaritan
- Derin Oyekan // Reel Paper
- Erica Plybeah // MedHaul
This will mark the 10th edition of the Causeartist – Social Entrepreneurs to Watch for list! If you would like to check out the previous years of social entrepreneurs you can view them below.
Over the past nine years I’ve had the tremendous pleasure of speaking with nearly eight-hundred social entrepreneurs around the world.
This journey has allowed me to interview many leaders within:
- Impact Investing
- Ethical Fashion
- Regenerative Agriculture
Each year, I sit down and assess the social entrepreneur interviews I’ve completed, the stories I’ve read, and the podcasts I’ve listened to.
Our challenges are certainly large in scope, but there are many innovators and visionaries around the world working on solutions.
Each day we are inundated with the negative aspects of humanity and destructions of communities and societies.
These aspects are very real and very hard to confront on a daily basis.
Whether we agree or not how to deal with a changing climate, it is here, our biodiversity is going through stark changes.
Traditional educational institutions are facing disruption.
Mental health and addiction has crippled a generation.
Homelessness is no longer in the darkness, it is visible in the light of our daily lives.
Gun violence still brings tears to mothers who lose children.
Stomachs still turn and ache from malnutrition.
Still, my feelings of inspiration and optimism remain the same.
I have chosen to speak and fill my days with the dreamers, the visionaries, the social entrepreneurs, and the Causeartists who are dedicating their lives to solving these complicated issues.
I still believe business has the power to confront each of these issues in a unique way. I have seen first hand how business can transform communities, transform lives, and create purpose for those involved in building something impactful for the world.
I created Causeartist to do my small part in spotlighting these courageous and creative individuals for their daily commitment to solving problems and creating sustainable and regenerative impact.
Of course, these are not all the amazing people doing spectacular things. These particular social entrepreneurs to watch for in 2023 are the ones that stood out to me.
Charlot Magayi // Mukuru Clean Stoves
Charlot’s early life was very difficult. She became an orphan at the age 10 and grew up in the Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums, one of the biggest slums in Nairobi (Kenya’s capital city).
By sixteen she was a teenage mom and the journey continued to get harder from there.
Charlot had to drop out of school to figure out a way to fend for herself and daughter.
Her first job was selling charcoal within the slums.
Both her and her daughter began suffering from respiratory tract infections and when she turned two, her daughter suffered a severe burn injury from a traditional stove.
After a two year break from school, she was finally able to save enough for tuition and enrolled in an adult school – which opened her eyes to the health hazards caused by charcoal and other harmful solid fuels.
An enthusiast of science and social studies, she wanted to inspire fellow women to lead the fight against household air pollution in Africa!
Charlot eventually founded Mukuru Clean Stoves, a social enterprise that produces clean, affordable, and reliable cooking stoves targeting under-served markets to help mothers keep their children safe, save on fuel consumption, and reduce household air pollution.
Fahad Ifaz // iFarmer
Fahad is an entrepreneur with a vision to create innovative, sustainable and resilient solutions for people in emerging economies.
A big believer of businesses and entrepreneurs as driving force for human development.
Fahad believes as rationale human beings we don’t buy or invest in “things”.
“We don’t make decisions based on features and benefits, we make decisions based on emotion, intuition and a range of other calculations which are complex in nature similar to the markets which we thrive in.”
This is true for the poor farmers, producers, big corporations, governments and financial institutions.
Prior to founding iFarmer, Fahad worked for 10 years in the “market systems development” and ” and Private sector development space with experience in agriculture, micro-enterprise development, value chain development, policy analysis and private sector engagement across various countries in South Asia.
These experienced included working for the NGO, Swisscontact-Katalyst, The World Bank, CARE Australia and SPRING Accelerator.
Fahad has a BBA from NSU (2006-2010) and a Masters in Economics from NSU (2012-2013).
iFarmer can connect farmers, space/landowners, investors, and crop buyers to create a complete farming supply chain.
To date, the app and platform is used by 71,000+ farmers in Bangladesh and growing rapidly month over month.
Carlo Mondavi // Monarch Tractor
Carlo Mondavi is a 4th generation farmer & winegrower and grandson of the legendary Robert Mondavi. In addition to making wine, Carlo is co-founder & chief farming officer of Monarch Tractor founded in 2017.
He is currently an active sustainable farmer and leads the delivery of the world’s smartest, fully electric, autonomous tractor which is being deployed around the world to farmers.
In 2020 he was co-founder of Monarch Tractor leading the electrification of agriculture for sustainable farming.
Carlo states, “The true definition of sustainable is all over the place, blurring the root meaning of what sustainable is.
With that said, truly sustainable farming is leaving the soils and environment farmed as good if not better than before to allow for life and farming to continue on healthily.
This means no herbicides, systemics and a basic regenerative practice to help build soil health and biodiversity on the farm.
Once this balance is found on a farm there is the opportunity for a healthier farm team meaning healthier community and most importantly a better and healthier product to share and sell.”
Monarch Tractor is making sustainable farming economically superior with the MK-V — the world’s smartest, fully electric autonomous tractor and with a world-class leadership team that have accelerated vision to product delivery in three years.
Monarch’s fully electric tractor helps eliminate the 35 percent of carbon emissions developed by current diesel tractors used in agriculture farming.
Monarch projections suggest its tractor can directly reduce 1% of GHG emissions, while regenerative practices enabled by Monarch can reduce 4% of GHG emissions.
Nguzo Ogbodo // Yara Shea Beauty
Growing up in Nigeria, Nguzo knew that for many adolescent girls, puberty is a vulnerable time because of sexual harassment, abuse, early marriage, unintended pregnancy, and absences from school which threaten their health and well-being.
The challenges are amplified when girls lack the knowledge and tools they need to navigate puberty safely and with dignity.
She noticed that many girls and women who were denied an education could not afford sanitary pads—or had a choice between buying these products or food for the family.
In response, Nguzo launched Hope and Dreams Initiative, dedicated to menstrual health management, sexual and reproductive health, and rights education.
To help fund this initiative, she then created Yara Shea Beauty. The brand seeks to make a positive difference in the world by offering high-quality, naturally inspired skincare and body care products produced ethically and sustainably.
Yara uses pure, unrefined shea butter sourced and handcrafted by women in Ghana according to Fair Trade and Organic standards.
It is made in the traditional way that it has been made for millennia, without the use of chemicals.
Profits from Yara Shea Beauty are used to provide young girls with sanitary pads, skills, education, and financial empowerment that can make a significant difference in their educational journey while providing dignity and hope.
“I have always believed that business can and should be a force for social good, as well as being a vehicle for profit and personal fulfillment.”
Anieke Lamers // Peekabond
Anieke is an ex-VC turned social entrepreneur on a mission to make every child in the world feel special and connected to roots & loved ones.
With Peekabond, she helps global families build bonds with young kids. They unlock deep family bonds between kids, family and loved ones at a distance through asynchronous connection with playful content inspiration such as interactive lessons, activities, games, stories, songs.
Peekabond aims to become a digital playground for families, where they can enjoy playful activities and spent quality time together.
Using technology for good, Peekabond helps strengthen real-life relationships. With simple, engaging, and clever content ideas at the touch of a button, it’s easy for every member of the family to get a little closer, even when you are not close by.
Adam Taubenfligel // Triarchy
Adam is an author and co-founder, Creative Director and Sustainability Steward for the fully sustainable fashion brand, Triarchy. In his day job, Adam is innovating fabric technology, traceability and reusability that minimize waste and maintain authenticity, relentlessly reducing waste at every possible juncture.
However, the bigger picture shows us a disruptive founder on his journey to discover how his identity as an author, sustainability steward, designer, LGBTQIA+ human in this space is all intersecting at this moment and leading to what’s next.
Since its inception, Triarchy has become known for its sustainable and ethical practices, as well as its trend-setting design.
The brand also uses eco-friendly processes to manufacture its jeans, such as using ozone technology to minimize water waste. In addition to its environmental credentials, Triarchy is also committed to social responsibility.
Cherie Hoeger // saalt
Cherie is a passionate believer in living life to the fullest. She believes it’s important to uncover what drives us and our core principles, then use that knowledge to act with purpose each day.
Her focus has been on providing people with education as an avenue for personal growth – 15 years of writing experience have shown her how powerful clear instructions can be when trying to inspire positive change or better conditions.
With Saalt, Cherie is joining forces with her knowledge in health education and philanthropy to make a truly meaningful difference.
This innovative company is revolutionizing period care by providing sustainable solutions that support healthy living for women everywhere – both those of developed nations through simplifying processes and those lacking the necessary resources in developing countries where an investment can help lift them out of poverty and allow them stay engaged with school.
Tony Selvaggio // eSmart Recycling
Tony’s story is truly one of success and inspiration. At age 6, he began his entrepreneurial journey by selling candy treats, but this was just the start.
Tony then proceeded to found eSmart Recycling that has since blossomed into an award-winning social enterprise with retail locations throughout South America.
eSmart Recycling’s primary mission is to set up computer labs for kids in local community’s and in developing countries who don’t have access to technology.
They recycle computers, electronics, and IT equipment in order to fund these initiatives. Their partners are responsible for giving children all over the world the opportunity to leave their digital footprint and to make a global impact through technology.
Through this venture, Tony has managed to empower thousands of children through technology – amazing!
His unique combination of academic knowledge and practical experience allows him to thrive when dealing with cross-cultural scenarios.
Above all else though, it is clear from everything accomplished so far that Tony will always possess a passionate desire for learning which drives not only himself forward but those around him as well.
Ifi Akpandak // Brava
Ifi Onakemu is the innovative mind behind the software company Brava.
Brava makes it easy for individuals and corporations to support Black-owned businesses. For individuals, the platform offers a monthly subscription to local Black-owned restaurants.
For corporations, the platform helps you spend at Black-owned businesses through corporate gifting and employee rewards.
Businesses on the platform receive predictable revenues and early cash flows to reinvest in themselves and communities.
Umaimah Mendhro // One League
Umaimah is a formidable force in transforming the future of education and creativity.
Umaimah is the Founder and President of One League & VIDA.
She founded One League to provide world-class opportunities for change-makers. Prior to her ventures, while VIDA connects creative minds from around the globe who are able to produce original products at scale.
Umaimah is also the Founder of thedreamfly.org, a global initiative connecting communities in conflict around common causes with presence across four countries touching over 5,000 lives. dreamfly kickstarts seed initiatives that are 100% financially sustainable within one year.
She regularly speaks at TEDx events around Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise and Marketing while also contributing OpEd pieces to Forbes as well writing case studies for Harvard Business School – all this on top of being an MBA from Harvard (with honors) plus having earned a BSc from Cornell University studying Human Development & Computer Science!
Luuk Weber // Kolektivo
Luuk is a social entrepreneur committed to creating ecosystems that empower individuals and provide prosperity for all. He was born and raised on the Caribbean island of Curacao and moved to The Netherlands in 2015, where he still spends most of his time.
He discovered Cryptocurrencies in 2017 and was instantly captivated by the potential of the technology to enhance trust between third parties, which motivated him to build impact projects that leverage these capabilities.
He’s been at the forefront of the ReFi space, a niche within the cryptocurrency market that focuses on creating financial tools to support regenerative practices.
As the founder of Kolektivo, he is committed to reverting climate change and global inequality by creating tools that allow communities in emerging economies to be rewarded fairly for their stewardship of nature.
Kolektivo will enable communities to leverage this value to create a so-called local community currency, which enhances production and trade and further support regional development in a regenerative way.
Charley Cummings // Walden Mutual Bank
Charley started Walden Mutual Bank to help people grow their savings while supporting local farms and food businesses daring to do things differently.
Walden Mutual Bank is a sustainable food focused digital bank, raised $24 million in Special Deposit Shares; and received FDIC and State of NH approval for the first new mutual bank charter in 50 years.
After 8 years as founder and CEO of Walden Local – a sustainable meat company, which now serves thousands of families across the Northeast – Charley has brought the shared name and ethos to the banking world (though the two companies do not share a formal relationship).
Before Walden, Charley played key roles in companies and non-profits covering commercial-scale composting, offshore wind energy, and management consulting.
Rose Correa // Amazonian SkinFood
Rose is a social entrepreneur that has dedicated her career to the search for innovative solutions to promote socioeconomic development and forest conservation in the Amazon Rainforest.
Wanting to contribute in some way to counteract the exploitation of the Amazon Rainforest and its inhabitants, Rose set out to create natural skincare products and follow a regenerative business model that would bring abundance back to the forest and its people.
Rose is now the founder of Amazonian SkinFood ™.
This business model and vision for a sustainable world are what Amazonian SkinFood ™ embodies and is made possible with years of background helping support local businesses and the team’s extensive body of knowledge on sustainability.
Amazonian SkinFood ™ actively works with communities of the Amazon Rainforest harvesting ingredients sustainably and helping regenerate the ecosystem.
Hasan Siber // Colive
Colive was born out of a passion for quality and equality. Hasan and Alex met in their first days at a university in the UK and discovered they were both from the same island but on different sides of a border.
Their friendship grew with time for more than a decade. When Hasan realized Cyprus could be the birthplace of the world’s rarest olive oil, he knew that with Alex’s help, they could not only create an amazing product but also help their island thrive.
Thus, Colive Oil was born. They bring high-quality, locally grown indigenous Cypriot olives from groves in northern and southern Cyprus to be pressed together into the rarest olive oil in the world.
In crossing the demilitarised zone dividing Cyprus, these olives create a truly and wholly Cypriot, globally unique olive oil with the social mission of bringing people together despite conflicts. Alex and Hasan are leading by example.
Colive is the first company in Cyprus for over 50 years to operate truly island-wide and directed jointly by Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Colive is the first Cyprus company to operate across the division in more than 50 years and only Cypriot olive oil brand available in the U.S. at retail – is using its high-quality extra virgin olive oil made with hand-picked olives to pursue peace on the divided Mediterranean island, bringing new meaning to food with purpose.
Kentrell Martin // Shelly’s Adventures
Kentrell Martin is the President and creator of the Shelly’s Adventures series. He’s also an author of many of the books in the series. Growing up with a Deaf brother Kentrell saw how the world viewed Deaf people.
He created Shelly’s Adventures so that he could introduce kids and parents to American Sign Language and Deaf culture.
Kentrell see’s Shelly’s Adventures as a company that will play a part in helping bridge the gap between the Deaf and hearing world. He envision Shelly’s Adventures as a company that will be a household name.
“When you think of companies and names like Disney, Scholastic, Dr. Suess, I want you to think of Shelly’s Adventures. A new age company that found a way to introduce millions to a language and culture in a fun and educational way.”
– Kentrell Martin
Kentrell also see’s movies, live action plays, cartoons and theme parks in the future for Shelly’s Adventures.
Ben Jeffreys // ATEC
Ben Jeffreys is on a mission to revolutionize the way we cook — and he’s not wasting anytime. His ambition? To bring decarbonized cooking into every home across the globe by 2030!
With co-founding of ATEC in 2015, this multi-award winning social entrepreneur has been pushing for change – no matter how ambitious his goal may seem.
As ATEC’s CEO and strategic leader Ben has an unwavering commitment to unlocking the potential in others. Ben brings over 14 years experience in managing teams across social enterprise, international development and corporate sectors.
Before his role at ATEC Ben worked as National Development Manager at SSE, Product Development Manager at Oxfam, and Retail Sales Executive at Westfield.
Globally cooking with wood kills roughly three times as many people each year as traffic accidents – the majority of fatalities being women due to smoke inhalation.
ATEC is a startup social enterprise that produces, sells and distributes patented biodigester systems for small-scale farmers globally.
ATEC is a joint venture between Engineers Without Borders and Live & Learn, has installed over 1,000 systems since it commenced and is now expanding globally to a market of over 205 million households.
Denise Woodard // Partake Foods
In 2016, Denise Woodard founded Partake Foods to bring people from all dietary backgrounds together around allergy-friendly snacks.
Crafting their products with the utmost care and attention, these offerings are certified gluten-free, non-GMO vegan treats that don’t contain any of the top nine allergens – wheat, tree nuts peanuts milk eggs soy fish sesame or shellfish.
Through her passion, Denise also created Black Futures in Food & Beverage – an incredible annual fellowship program that provides mentorship and helps open doors to underrepresented people looking for career opportunities.
Since its inception, it has been empowering HBCU students by connecting them with internships and job prospects at the end of their programes.
Darko Mandich // MeliBio
Darko Mandich is the CEO & Co-Founder of MeliBio. MeliBio is an award-winning food technology company recognized by TIME Magazine as Best Inventions 2021.
MeliBio plant-based honey is made without bees!
Darko started his career in the European food industry in 2012 and worked on managing and growing honey companies in more than 5 countries.
By pursuing his dream to reinvent the honey industry and make it sustainable, Darko immigrated from Serbia to the United States in 2019 to launch MeliBio.
Darko is now a social entrepreneur on a mission to sustainably feed 10B+ people with delicious and nutritious foods while saving Planet’s keystone species – wild and native bees.
Darko is passionate about the future of food and ways to advance science to make the food system sustainable, scalable and animal-free.
Darko is also the Founder in a non-executive role at Foodscale Hub, an impact venture studio founded as a non-profit organization and funded through EU’s Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe programs.
Jim Chu // Untapped Global
Jim is an impact investor in early-stage companies in Africa, and founder of Untapped Global.
Jim has 30+ years of experience in tech, international aid, venture investing, impact investing, and running companies in the US, Europe, Africa, and Latin America.
At Untapped Global, the mission is to unlock massive potential from small businesses in Africa and help global investors capture high-growth, high-yield investment opportunities in those hard-to-access markets.
Kimberly Shenk // Novi
Kimberly’s mission in life is to replace unsustainable products with sustainable ones, a way of life she reflects in both her home and business.
When Kimberly became pregnant, her constant questioning of chemical ingredients in beauty and personal care products culminated in a tech company start-up.
That tech company is called Novi, a groundbreaking platform for researching, sampling and sourcing raw ingredients and packaging that has enabled a new era of sustainable, transparent consumer products.
Today, Novi’s vast dataset and Artificial Intelligence has had a hand in the formulas and packaging of thousands of beauty and personal care products that are clean and sustainable, and better for people and the planet.
Kimberly’s earlier days saw her graduating top of her class from the United States Air Force Academy with a double major in Mathematics & Operations Research.
When stationed at Pearl Harbor as a Captain in the Air Force with a highly coveted Top Secret security clearance and working directly for the Pacific’s 3-star General running intelligence models, she won the 2013 Richard H. Barchi Prize for her work in “Analytics on Improving Integrated Air & Missile Defense in the Pacific Area of Responsibility.”
She then attended graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a full-ride scholarship to study Data Science, and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Operations Research.
Matthew Kochmann // Transcend
From a young age, Matthew Kochmann faced medical and mental health challenges that forced him to confront his own mortality, awakening a lifelong fascination with how humans relate to the mystery of death.
In an attempt to integrate a more accepting approach, he turned to nature… Matthew found solace and inspiration in the central tenets of the American Transcendentalism movement forged by Emerson along with the ancient Vedic philosophies of India: that all living things are interconnected, even after death.
While poetic, he was emboldened to learn that this is also scientifically true in the natural world; when an organism is returned to the earth, it creates more life for everything around it.
With a Landscape Architecture degree from Cornell University, a track record of success as a serial entrepreneur, and experience as a land developer, it’s only natural that Matthew is bringing Tree Burial into existence.
Creating values-aligned impact for the collective has always been his primary aspiration. Most notably, as employee #7 at Uber, he led the charge in transforming NYC’s antiquated and offline taxi industry, only to ultimately walk away from a life-changing amount of equity over ethical concerns.
Matthew’s unique blend of regulatory and real estate knowledge, infused with a spiritually-inspired passion for the environment makes him the ideal steward for the Future Tree movement.
Transcend is the first company dedicated to reforesting the world by planting people (and pets) as trees when they die. Launching in October 2022, Transcend’s unique Tree Burial™ process is a climate change solution that repurposes the most life-giving natural resource known to mankind: our bodies.
A bold, carbon negative alternative to caskets and cremation, Tree Burial creates life from death by returning people to the earth naturally so their biology can literally live on as a tree.
Transcend is pioneering the Future Tree movement to help people cultivate a healthier relationship with their mortality and the planet. By using nature as a vehicle, Tree Burial reminds us that endings are always beginnings.
Shavini Fernando // OxiWear
Shavini Fernando is a video game, virtual reality (VR) web designer and developer. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Portsmouth, an M.B.A. from Edith Cowan University, and a master’s in Communications, Culture, and Technology (CCT) from Georgetown University.
In 2015, Ms. Fernando was diagnosed with severe pulmonary hypertension (PH) as a result of Eisenmenger Syndrome. In 2019, she invented OxiWear, an ear-wearable pulse oximeter and emergency alert accessory for continuous oxygen monitoring.
Ms. Fernando personally experienced multiple situations in which her heart stopped beating caused by a sudden drop in oxygen levels, putting her at high risk for cardiac arrest and stroke.
By wearing OxiWear, patients can continuously monitor their oxygen levels and get medical help in an emergency situation.
OxiWear has secured multiple U.S. and international patents for its design and utility. Ms. Fernando won pitch competitions, including Georgetown University’s Entrepreneurship Competition – Bark Tank (2019) and TiE Global Women’s Pitch Competition – TiE DC Chapter (2021).
OxiWear participated in two accelerators in 2021 – MassMEDIC IGNITE and the LEAD Sports & Health Tech Accelerator in Lake Nona, Florida. Additionally, the company closed its pre-seed funding round at $1.25M.
Josh Hile // Citizen Mint
Prior to Citizen Mint, Josh was the Director of Investment Strategy & Research at Laird Norton Wealth Management, a $16 billion registered investment advisor (RIA) headquartered in Seattle, WA.
He was instrumental in developing, maintaining, and improving LNWM’s impact and sustainable investing capabilities for both public and private markets.
Prior to this, Josh worked at Russell Investments performing due diligence on fund managers for Russell’s mutual fund and consulting divisions (Russell advised on $2.2 trillion).
About Citizen Mint
Citizen Mint connects impact investors with investment opportunities in affordable housing and renewable energy to provide returns for you and our planet.
Investing in the private markets is often an exclusive activity, but Citizen Mint has made it accessible for all! They make sure each investment offered will be a positive influence both socially and financially.
Their team works tirelessly to identify opportunities that investors wouldn’t otherwise have access to opening up impact investing to a wider audience.
Pauline Idogho // Mocktail Club
Paulina was inspired by a quest to find sophisticated and better-for-you alternatives to alcohol. After her research, she noticed that the options were very limited in this space.
Because of this, Paulina decided to start Mocktail Club, a line of premium crafted ready-to-drink non-alcoholic cocktails available at Whole Foods, Amazon and online.
These non-alcoholic cocktails are inspired by her travels.
She has worked and lived in Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia and America.
1% of sales go to clean water access in emerging countries.
Before Mocktail Club, Paulina spent 18 years in corporate finance, business, M&A, project finance, principal investing and investment banking experience in the US, Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Cory Ames // Grow Ensemble
Cory is the founder of Grow Ensemble. Grow Ensemble is in the business of making a difference. Cory’s mission is to engage and inspire audiences, helping them become champions for positive change.
Grow Ensemble is a Content Marketing Agency for Social Enterprises. Using data driven content marketing strategies, he helps social enterprises increase their website traffic, brand authority and raise awareness to the causes that are ingrained into their operations.
He also hosts The Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Podcast – connecting passionate entrepreneurs, ambitious innovators and experienced influencers who all share their valuable insight on creating meaningful social impact through better businesses or initiatives that benefit society as well as profits!
Greg G.L. Genco // Generation Conscious
G.L. grew up near a waste transfer station in Jamaica, Queens, NYC before moving to Long Island with his Trinidadian-Italian family. Seeing the health impacts of the waste station on his community motivated him to found Generation Conscious in order to tackle climate injustice, eliminate plastic waste, and address eco-classism.
He was further moved to take action when he found out Trinidad & Tobago was 80% at or below sea level, meaning most of his family was on track to be displaced by rising sea levels.
As a first generation college graduate (Amherst College), G.L. understands the importance of accessibility when it comes to sustainable goods.
He started Generation Conscious to create affordable zero waste products for students on college campuses.
The Generation Conscious system is built on making sustainability simple, accessible, and affordable. Because helping the environment shouldn’t be a luxury.
That’s why Generation Conscious collaborates with university administrations to ensure the school subsidizes or finances the full cost of the hygiene refills for all low-income students.
Eleonore Eisath // beworm
After graduating from the Wirtschaftsoberschule H. Kunter Bozen with an emphasis on business, management and marketing, Eleonore Eisath completed her Bachelor in Industrial Design at the Università IUAV di Venezia.
In 2019 she rounded out her knowledge with a Master’s degree from TUM.
Since she began her studies at TUM, Eleonore Eisath has been conducting research on a highly innovative recycling system.
In 2019 this led to the spin-off beworm, which is developing a biotic/biocatalytic recycling process to break down oil-based plastics such as PE (polyethylene).
PE is the world’s most commonly used plastic material, which is used in many everyday goods. However, in contrast to the more familiar PET (polyethylene terephthalate), the other main chemical component for consumer goods, it is to date hardly ever being recycled.
In addition to beworm, only a handful of other companies worldwide are working on this important task for the future.
Beworm uses the power of nature to recycle the world’s most used plastics. Beworm is developing a biocatalytic recycling process that decomposes plastic waste into natural raw materials.
They isolate plastic-degrading bacteria from our beloved be(e)worms to degrade polyethylene, the world’s most used plastic material.
The enzymes produced by this bacteria split the plastics up into basic chemicals for the production new (bio)plastics or other petrochemical products – creating an infinite, closed-loop system.
Christal Earle // Brave Soles
As the founder of an international youth humanitarian organization, Christal Earle had been working and learning from a local community of garbage dump workers since 2005 on the north coast of Dominican Republic.
Among everything else in that garbage dump, there was also an overwhelming amount of tires. They were a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying deadly diseases and they were a toxic nightmare.
In 2010, an unexpected turn of events in Christal’s journey left her facing the fact that she was going to have to rebuild her life between two countries.
She was now torn between Canada, where her career was based, and the Dominican Republic where her adopted daughter couldn’t leave.
Established in 2017, Brave Soles is a footwear and accessory brand that is changing the planet one upcycled tire at a time.
They believe that through socially conscious and ethical business decisions we can change the perception of fashion and what it means to be proud to represent a cause through consumer choices.
Christal’s sees up-cycling as an exciting opportunity for products to be innovative, therefore they incorporate upcycled tires and inner tubes into everything that they do, from tote bags to flip flops.
All Brave Soles products are handmade in the Dominican Republic by highly skilled artisans using local resources. Brave Soles was founded, in large part, out of the landfills of the Dominican Republic.
Jonathan Kumar // Samaritan
Jonathan’s remarkable journey began in humble circumstances as the son of immigrant parents struggling with poverty. Then, his ambition and intelligence earned him a place at the University of Michigan where he obtained an Informatics degree specializing in UX design.
Jonathan then channeled his academic education into creating real world change by producing documentaries on social issues and inventing FoodCircles – a tool to convert surplus restaurant food into funds for local charities fighting hunger.
Most recently, he has established Samaritan which gives people experiencing homelessness more opportunities toward independence through providing financial assistance they need most.
Samaritan is a support platform that empowers people without a home to move forward. Individuals gain the social and financial support needed to rebuild hope and reach housing goals.
Derin Oyekan // Reel Paper
Reel Paper co-founder Derin Oyekan, grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. His early life experiences inspired the multi-faceted giveback that Reel provides with every sale of the 100% bamboo toilet paper.
Since childhood, Derin has had a fascination with how things work and how to make them work better. Over the years, Derin supported numerous start-up companies that shared his passion for innovation and improving others’ lives.
Reel Paper is made with 100% tree-free fibers, making it the most sustainable paper on the market. Plus, all of the shipping materials are biodegradable and Reel uses plastic-free packaging.
Erica Plybeah // MedHaul
Growing up in the diverse landscape of the Mississippi Delta instilled a deep appreciation for kindness and resourcefulness. Although this region has many bountiful assets, its residents also face significant obstacles such as poverty, racial injustice and inadequate services – all contributing to Erica’s passion for creating social equity through healthcare technology.
For over 10 years now she have applied software solutions across multiple organizations aiming to give people more control over their own care.
This led Erica to start MedHaul, a Benefit Corporation that uses cutting-edge technology and firsthand experience of the community to help vulnerable patients with critical transportation needs.
The mission is ambitious – instead of leaving individuals from less privileged backgrounds out in the cold when new solutions are created, they strive hard for their inclusion.
MedHaul is backed by an incredible array of investors such as Citi Ventures Impact Fund, Morgan Stanley and Google for Startups among many others who share Erica’s vision.
Inspired by the legacy of her grandmother, Mary Lou Steele, and the resilience of the persevering people from the Mississippi Delta, Erica is determined to create a future where patient empowerment removes the barriers to quality care for everyone in the Deep South.