This marks the 9th 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 eight years I’ve had the great pleasure of speaking with over 750 social entrepreneurs around the world.
It has been a tremendous journey and absolute pleasure to interview so many leaders within impact investing, sustainable fashion, climate technology, cryptocurrency, regenerative agriculture and others.
Each year, I sit down and assess the interviews from the past year, the stories I’ve read, and the podcasts I’ve listened to.
Every year my feelings of inspiration and hopefulness remain the same.
The negativity and the fear we seem to have coming from all directions of our society is not what I see day to day.
What I see are inspiring people from all over the world dedicating their lives and skills to create a better 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 around the world doing spectacular things. These particular social entrepreneurs to watch for in 2022 are the ones that stood out to me.
Social Entrepreneurs to Watch for in 2022
Sophia Wang // Co-Founder of MycoWorks
Back in 2013, Sophia, alongside artist and inventor Phil Ross, embarked on the journey of co-founding MycoWorks. This groundbreaking biomaterials company has harnessed mushroom mycelium technology to craft natural alternatives to engineered wood, leather, and plastics.
Sophia’s artistic scope encompasses a range of disciplines, from choreography and performance to writing, curation, and the creation of original dance and multimedia works.
Her dance experiences include collaborations with notable figures such as Xavier Le Roy, Tino Sehgal, Jerome Bel, Amara Tabor-Smith, and Xandra Ibarra. She is also a co-founder of the Brontez Purnell Dance Company.
Since 2015, Sophia has been a driving force behind Heavy Breathing, a workshop series merging discussions and movement. This series has showcased over 45 artists at the forefront of performance, visual arts, and pedagogy.
In academia, Sophia holds a PhD in English, specializing in experimental American poetry from the 20th and 21st centuries, along with a BA in English and Visual Arts.
MycoWorks pioneers the creation of materials that seamlessly blend art, nature, and biotechnology through the innovative use of mushroom mycelium. Recognized as one of Earth’s most regenerative resources, mushroom mycelium becomes the foundation for the materials they produce.
The company’s core mission revolves around establishing a platform for the production of top-tier materials using Fine Mycelium™.
Their debut creation, Reishi™, provides the fashion industry with an avant-garde leather alternative that transcends the boundaries of animal and plastic origins.
Uncompromising in quality and aesthetic expression, Reishi™ stands as a testament to MycoWorks’ commitment to pushing boundaries and redefining the possibilities of sustainable materials.
Jacqueline van den Ende // Co-founder of Carbon Equity
Jacqueline is a dedicated entrepreneur and investor with a fervent commitment to fostering high-impact ventures. Her journey in the Philippines saw her successfully establish Lamudi Philippines, which, over the span of three years, surged to become the definitive market leader in online real estate.
Preceding this accomplishment, Jacqueline served as an investment professional at HAL Investments, a private equity firm, and held a Partner role at Peak Capital.
Prior to that, she embarked on founding De Kleine Consultant, a non-profit organization specializing in management consulting. Presently, the organization engages over 200 students across three countries.
Carbon Equity embarks on an audacious mission to drive substantial change in the face of climate change. Their vision revolves around forging connections between capital and climate technology, on a global scale spanning billions.
Carbon Equity, fueled by its innovative climate fintech solution, aspires to provide retail investors with climate-focused investment products that wield tangible influence.
This signifies a commitment to direct financial contributions on par with R&D, technology development, and the expansion of companies. Notably, their approach distinctly emphasizes primary investments rather than secondary market endeavors.
Central to their strategy is granting access to Alternative Investments, encompassing avenues like Climate Venture Capital and Climate Private Equity, among other asset classes. Through these avenues, Carbon Equity champions investments that exert a direct climate impact while yielding enticing financial returns.
Olowo-n’djo Tchala // Founder of Alaffia
Olowo-n’djo Tchala, the visionary behind Alaffia, serves as its founder and CEO. Born and raised in the village of Kaboli, Togo, his upbringing was deeply influenced by the challenges faced by the women in his community.
Having personally witnessed the inequalities and injustices they endured, he became driven to make a difference. Upon his journey to the United States and his pursuit of education, he recognized his duty to address the systemic injustices prevalent in West Africa.
In 1996, fate introduced Tchala to Prairie Rose Hyde, his partner in life and in the creation of Alaffia. Prairie, an environmental volunteer with the Peace Corps, was welcomed to his village.
United by a shared passion for global betterment, they established Alaffia, a social enterprise dedicated to ethical impact. The year 2003 marked the inception of Alaffia’s first shea butter collective, where the value of West African resources and sustainable business practices merged.
Subsequently, in 2004, the headquarters of Alaffia found its home in Olympia, Washington.
For nearly two decades, Tchala’s environmentally conscious and fair trade organization has pioneered sustainable initiatives across West Africa, transforming the lives of a quarter-million individuals.
The proceeds generated from the sale of Alaffia’s line of beauty and personal care products are reinvested in African communities, particularly those in Togo and Ghana.
These funds fuel a range of empowering programs, encompassing Maternal Care, Reforestation, Regenerative Agriculture, Eyeglass Distribution, Bicycle Provision, and, notably in 2021, the Eradication of Female Genital Mutilation.
Over the course of their journey, Alaffia has erected 16 schools, cultivated in excess of 99,000 trees, supplied over 10,000 bicycles and 30,000 pairs of eyeglasses, equipped more than 37,000 students with school essentials, and sponsored over 6,500 births.
The operational framework is elegantly simple: Women’s cooperatives in West Africa expertly craft indigenous elements like unrefined shea butter and African black soap using traditional methods. These raw creations are then perfected at Alaffia’s headquarters in Olympia, Washington.
The revenue generated from the sale of these personal care items is reinvested in African communities, predominantly in Togo and Ghana, to propel their community-driven initiatives forward.
Saja Chander // Founder of FAIRBEE
Fairbee stands as a transformative hub for conscientious individuals seeking a sustainable way of life. At the helm is Founder Saja Chander, driven by a resolute mission to catalyze positive change in the realm of consumer behavior.
Specifically, Chander targets the choices of online shoppers engaged in fashion, cosmetics, accessories, and jewelry, aiming to infuse sustainability into their purchasing habits.
Drawing inspiration from The Netherlands’ renowned luxury department store, Fairbee introduces a curated selection of exquisite brands.
What unites these esteemed partner brands is their shared commitment to sustainability, harmonizing with considerations for the environment, labor conditions, local production, and animal welfare.
Within the realm of Fairbee, an elevated shopping experience takes shape, enveloped in a realm of premium offerings.
The ethos centers on making sustainable shopping a delightful and engaging journey, amplifying the joy and satisfaction derived from conscious consumerism.
Dan Miller // Founder of Steward
Dan Miller serves as the Founder and CEO of Steward, an exclusive lending entity that extends essential capital to regenerative farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and producers, aiding in the expansion and sustainability of their enterprises.
Through their innovative online platform, eligible lenders have the distinct opportunity to align with Steward’s mission, actively contributing to the advancement of regenerative agriculture by acquiring loan participations. The concept is elegantly straightforward, reflecting Steward’s commitment to fostering sustainable growth.
The narrative of Steward takes root in the journey of its visionary founder and CEO, Dan Miller. Delve into Dan’s motivations for initiating Steward, and he will recount mornings spent crabbing alongside his father in the Chesapeake Bay, a formative experience that solidified his connection to the land.
A pivotal moment occurred during a meeting with a renowned chef in Dan’s hometown of Washington D.C., where the chef highlighted the challenges confronted by independent farmers supplying his restaurant. The insight that specialized farms struggled to secure loans resonated deeply with Dan.
Rather than imposing constraints on farmers, Dan believed that the financial system should adapt to the diversity of agricultural practices.
This conviction propelled him to create a framework that empowers individual farmers to steward their land sustainably. Central to his vision was the inclusion of consumers, those who stood to benefit the most from sustainable farming practices, in the journey of success experienced by these farmers.
Educated at the Wharton School, Dan earned both a B.S. and M.B.A. in his pursuit of knowledge. He co-founded Fundrise, a pioneering investment crowdfunding venture, in conjunction with his partner.
In 2010, Fundrise emerged as the inaugural and largest real estate crowdfunding platform in the United States, accumulating more than $500 million in funding over time.
Drawing from this invaluable experience and fueled by his ardor for agriculture, ecology, and local food systems, Dan embarked on the journey of establishing Steward in 2017.
Natsai Musarurwa // Founder of Rated 18 Shoes
Natsai is the visionary behind Rated 18 Shoes, a transformative initiative. Through Rated 18 Shoes, Natsai endeavors to empower women who have triumphed over the adversity of child marriage, providing them with meaningful work crafting handmade shoes.
The enterprise, which dedicates over 50% of its profits, takes an active stance in supporting education for vulnerable girls.
Amidst the stark reality that more than 12 million girls are forced into marriage before reaching 18 years of age annually—equating to one girl every three seconds—many of these young brides are compelled to forsake their education, often facing a life marred by abuse.
Though Natsai herself did not experience the plight of child marriage, the narratives of survivors profoundly moved her. These stories, including those of girls wedded as young as 7, ignited a compassionate fire within her to offer assistance.
From this compassionate spark emerged Rated 18 Shoes, a heartfelt response to the urgent need for change.
Functioning as the Founder of a company engaged in uplifting child marriage survivors, Natsai shoulders the mantle of spreading awareness about this deeply concerning issue.
She aims to rally individuals around the cause, urging their participation in the battle against child marriage.
Beyond her advocacy, Natsai nurtures a profound aspiration to serve as a source of inspiration for budding entrepreneurs. She stands as a living testament to the possibility of crafting a business that catalyzes tangible change, even in the face of resource limitations.
Each of her entrepreneurial endeavors, including Rated 18 Shoes, has been set in motion through resourceful bootstrapping. She ardently believes that the absence of substantial funds or resources should never act as a deterrent to taking the initial steps towards manifesting one’s dreams.
Dale Wilkinson // Founder of goodgigs
Dale is on a dedicated quest to enable individuals to engage in meaningful endeavors. As the driving force behind Goodgigs, he orchestrates a platform that connects purpose-oriented professionals with career avenues, educational courses addressing societal concerns and ethical corporate strategies, and a dynamic community of individuals fostering positive change.
Through Goodgigs, a framework is being established for cultivating a workforce rooted in ethics and empathy, empowering companies to champion purpose-driven leadership and effect societal progress.
In addition to his role as the founder of Goodgigs, Dale also takes up the mantle of a podcast host. Through the GoodMakers podcast, he engages in insightful conversations with Social Entrepreneurs and prominent thought leaders.
The podcast serves as a compass guiding listeners toward a more intentional and purpose-driven existence.
Brennan Spellacy & Aaron Grunfeld // Co-founders of Patch
Patch is driven by the ambitious mission of achieving giga-tonne scale carbon sequestration. Recognizing the dual imperative for businesses to rapidly decarbonize their operations while also compensating for unavoidable emissions, Patch offers a seamless solution.
With Patch, the process of carbon removal becomes as effortless as crafting a few lines of code. This empowers businesses to effortlessly develop sustainable products while effortlessly steering their climate objectives on a self-sustaining course.
The foundation of this innovative approach lies in an API-based solution, allowing for the seamless integration of carbon footprint estimation and removal directly into digital products and user experiences. Additionally, the platform’s user-friendly dashboard facilitates bulk offset purchases, streamlining the process further.
The outcome is the harmonious neutralization of both business and end-user emissions through Patch’s expansive partner network.
This network encompasses an array of project types, ranging from traditional nature-based initiatives such as forestry, soil, and kelp, to cutting-edge human-engineered carbon removal technologies including biochar, bio-oil, and mineralization. Achieving carbon neutrality has never been easier, requiring only a few simple steps.
Christie Lagally // Founder of Rebellyous Foods
Christie is the Founder and CEO at Rebellyous Foods, a pioneering food production technology enterprise committed to establishing plant-based meat as a cost-competitive alternative to conventional chicken products.
With a background in mechanical engineering and a portfolio of multiple patents in manufacturing technology, Ms. Lagally has amassed considerable experience, primarily in the aerospace sector.
She has dedicated substantial portions of her career to endeavors at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, concentrating on design, testing, and manufacturing for commercial aircraft and spacecraft.
In her past capacity as a Senior Scientist for the Good Food Institute, Christie Lagally engaged in uncovering the technical hurdles within the realms of plant-based and cultured meat development
Her educational journey includes dual Bachelor’s degrees in Organizational Psychology and Mechanical Engineering, as well as a Master’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
Rebellyous Foods emerges as a producer of delectable and succulent plant-based chicken nuggets, patties, and strips. Designed for ultimate convenience, their ready-to-heat-and-serve offerings emulate the cooking experience of breaded chicken products, seamlessly fitting into bustling meal schedules across schools, hospitals, corporate cafeterias, and restaurants.
A distinctive aspect of Rebellyous products is their affordability and efficient large-scale production, ensuring access for all to quick, flavorful, plant-based meals throughout the week.
With an increasing number of individuals seeking to incorporate more plant-based options into their diets, driven by environmental consciousness, health considerations, and animal welfare, Rebellyous Foods addresses the challenge faced by foodservice operations with limited resources and staff expertise in creating delectable plant-based center-of-plate choices.
The overarching mission of Rebellyous Foods is encapsulated in their belief that access to delightful plant-based food should be universal.
Their rallying cry is “Meatless for all,” reflecting their dedication to making plant-based meals a reality for everyone.
Derrick Emsley // Co-founder of Tentree and Veritree
Derrick is the co-founder of both tentree and Veritree. Veritree is on a mission to accelerate the adoption of nature-based climate solutions – specifically restoration – through innovative technology.
Veritree’s inception sprouted from our intrinsic need to infuse transparency into our own investments in restoration and tree planting endeavors.
Originally nurtured within the confines of tentree, it emerged as an independent entity in 2020, a platform meticulously crafted to address the distinct challenges encountered by global restoration groups working on a grand scale.
Driven by an integrated suite of tools, Veritree leverages the capabilities of blockchain technology to furnish restoration organizations with a unified platform.
This platform serves as the bedrock for various functions, including field-level data collection, site planning, inventory management of trees, and rigorous impact monitoring. Meanwhile, it equally ensures that sponsors are provided with an exceptional and enriching experience.
The realm of restoration projects has historically posed significant hurdles when it comes to monitoring, quantifying, and auditing their impact. However, the urgency for substantial restoration initiatives has never been more pressing.
Veritree, stepping into this void, offers a systematic solution that empowers the most esteemed restoration endeavors across the globe to focus on their core competency—delivering real and transformative impact.
Anchored in tentree’s ethos is a resolute mission—to plant 1 billion trees by 2030. Yet, the vision stretches beyond numerical targets. The company envisions a world where businesses take the reins of change, prioritizing the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants.
With a proven track record of planting over 60 million trees, tentree exemplifies what a planet-centric business can embody.
Their philosophy is underscored by ethical and sustainable product creation, comprehensive emission offsetting, and the distinction of ranking among the top 10% of B-Corps globally.
The genesis of tentree was rooted in the convergence of impact-driven aspirations and the conviction that environmentalism should radiate inspiration and inclusivity. This ethos is embodied through the meticulous selection of the most ecologically progressive materials and fabrics available, all while ensuring the planting of ten trees for every purchase.
The tentree narrative encompasses more than merely reducing its negative footprint; it extends to crafting a tangible positive imprint. Their aspiration is to galvanize a fresh generation, kindling a deep-seated sense of social and environmental responsibility, one cluster of ten trees at a time.
Hardika Shah // Founder of Kinara Capital
Hardika is the Founder & CEO of Kinara Capital driving financial inclusion for small business entrepreneurs in India.
Hardika has built Kinara from a vision in her mind to it becoming one of the leading financial inclusion fintechs helping small business entrepreneurs in India.
Kinara Capital is addressing the missing middle credit gap in India for the micro-small-medium enterprise (MSME) sector by providing collateral-free funding to the underserved entrepreneurs. More than 70% of Kinara’s customer base was new to formal credit.
The overall impact of Kinara Capital is $100 million in incremental income generation for small business entrepreneurs. Our small business customers report a typical income increase of 20-25% and this impact has led to the sustenance of over 250,000 jobs in India, of which 71,000 are new jobs.
Globally recognised for her passion and innovative work, Hardika is an Ashoka Fellow, has received the Financial Inclusion Award by the Sankalp Forum, and won the People’s Choice Live Audience Award at The Wall Street Journal’s Financial Inclusion event.
Hardika earned her MBA from Columbia Business School and UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business joint program. She holds a B.A. in Computer Science from Knox College in Illinois, USA.
Catherine Griffin // Founder of ImpactableX
ImpactableX imparts founders’ narratives with empirical authority, providing them the essential foundation of credibility, substantiation, and verification. This transformative approach empowers them to construct their enterprises upon a bedrock of impact data, transcending the realm of intentionality.
The outcome: narratives that resonate more potently, communicating the full potential of their innovations to collaborators, clients, and investors.
The origins of the ImpactableX methodology trace back to the innovative think tank, GoodCompany Ventures. This award-winning accelerator and innovation consortium spearheaded the development of this approach.
Its efficacy has been attested by a host of distinguished figures in the landscape of social entrepreneurship, including Impact Funds, Academics, and prominent institutions such as TSEF, Wharton, Stanford, USAID’s Global Innovation Exchange, and Techstars, among others.
Catherine, the driving force behind this transformative initiative, has dedicated herself to serving the aspirations of numerous founders.
Almost universally, these entrepreneurs harbor an ardent desire to create meaningful impact. While their missions serve as their guiding star, they also yearn for a deeper comprehension of the tangible ways in which their work reverberates through our resources and vulnerable populations.
In pursuit of this clarity, they seek the validation of data, enabling them to substantiate their vision and articulate its potential trajectory.
Through the course of the past five years, Catherine has diligently shaped and honed an anticipatory, data-driven methodology for assessing social impact.
This toolkit equips founders with the means to articulate precisely how their products and services catalyze social and environmental value. Importantly, it also provides insight into the expansive realm of their potential impact when scaled.
Amidst the resounding success of this methodology among renowned social entrepreneurs, impact funds, and academics, Catherine and the GoodCompany Ventures have decided to extend this transformative tool to the broader impact community.
Luc Houle // Founder of Johnny Footwear
Johnny’s has recently unveiled the world’s first fully biodegradable shoe that transforms into a tree upon being planted underground.
Engineered to be comfortable, lightweight, and water-resistant, the shoes are made from a variety of sustainable materials, including cork, organic cotton canvas, and beeswax.
The biodegradation process is activated when the shoes are placed underground. An innovative compound lures naturally occurring microbes, which efficiently decompose the entire outsole in just 3 years.
At the midpoint of this process, an apple seed, coated with a natural fertilizer, is released, commencing the growth of a new tree.
In addition to their eco-friendly features, the shoes are also comfortable and stylish. The cork footbeds mold themselves to the contours of the feet over time, ensuring a personalized fit.
The uppers are made from breathable organic cotton canvas, which helps to keep the feet cool and dry.
For every shoe sold, Johnny’s commits to planting a tree on the customer’s behalf. This helps to offset the environmental impact of the shoes and contribute to reforestation efforts.
The Johnny’s biodegradable shoes are a revolutionary new product that offers a sustainable and stylish way to protect the planet. They are the perfect choice for anyone who wants to make a difference.
Akhil Sivanandan // Co-founder of GreenStory
Akhil is on a mission to guide both companies and individuals towards adopting a more environmentally conscious and socially responsible approach to conducting business.
Through his venture, GreenStory, he facilitates enterprises in effectively addressing their social, environmental, financial, and strategic objectives.
GreenStory seamlessly blends supply-chain sustainability analysis with engaging visuals and strategic marketing tactics, enabling your business’s ecological choices to shine in the public eye.
The inclusion of interactive data and impactful visuals fosters a stronger connection between your brand and customers, driving heightened brand-customer affinity, amplified conversion rates, and prominent recognition of your environmentally conscious decisions.
The integration of GreenStory’s software with your e-commerce platform guarantees that consumers can experience the concept of carbon neutrality not only on product pages, but also throughout purchase emails and beyond.
GreenStory’s core mission revolves around empowering consumers to opt for sustainable and ethical alternatives.
While the desire to make the right choices is universal, the key lies in the awareness of the positive impact these choices bring about.
GreenStory steps into this role by offering a straightforward, credible, and adaptable impact marketing platform, thus propelling the adoption of sustainable business practices into the mainstream.
Sana Ahmed // Founder of Sana Crown
Sana is a social entrepreneur, advocate, and freelance writer who is enthusiastic about what she does.
She divides her time between owning Sana crown and working with fashion companies on brand development, writing as a freelance writer, and directing the Fashion Law Africa Summit, a forum dedicated to the empowerment of African fashion.
Sana Crown was born out of a love of women’s rights, fashion, education, and sports. The brand is synonymous with elegance and boldness, and it encourages women and girls to embrace their boundless potential.
They sell high-end jewelry composed of excellent metals and artistic symbols from various cultures throughout the world.
They currently collaborate with skilled artisans in Greece and Turkey to create high-quality, handcrafted, and long-lasting jewelry.
Their effect is focused on women’s empowerment; they collaborate with Ethiopia’s ODA Special Boarding School and donate a portion of their sales to help young women pay for their education.
By giving possibilities, they want to alleviate some of the gender-based discrimination that many young girls in that corner of the world suffer.
Sana hopes to increase the options she can offer and to continue to communicate their tales through design as well as words.
Sana Crown is also launching a basketball initiative and investing in Ethiopian craftsmen in 2022, so the influence doesn’t end there.
Sana is dedicating her life to Sana Crown because she believes it will have a profound impact on the Ethiopian women and young girls with whom she works.
Brianna Kilcullen // Founder of Anact
Brianna Kilcullen stands as the visionary behind Anact, where “Anact” succinctly captures the essence of her mission: taking action to instigate positive change.
Brianna’s initial step was to introduce a sustainable towel crafted from hemp and organic cotton, a testament to her commitment to benefiting people and the planet.
Her journey also marked a pivotal moment in 2019 when she played a role in the legalization of hemp in Florida while simultaneously launching Anact.
The origins of her fervor trace back to a transformative experience in Central American textile factories, where she gained firsthand insight by working on the factory floor.
This experience cultivated a profound appreciation for the individuals shaping her clothing. Subsequently, her path led her to draft, conceptualize, and pioneer Under Armour’s inaugural full-time sustainability position, based in Baltimore, MD.
After her tenure with Under Armour, Brianna embarked on a tenure at prAna, a subsidiary of Columbia Sportswear, where she managed and directed the brand’s sustainability program.
Notably, she spearheaded the integration of a substantial $2 billion sustainability initiative, authored prAna’s inaugural Impact Report, expanded the Fair Trade USA program into Vietnam, contributed significantly to REI’s Product Sustainability Standards, and provided expertise in sustainability solutions for brands like Surftech, Kohls, the adidas Group, and The Cheesecake Factory.
Brianna also extensively collaborated with factories worldwide, offering guidance and training in executing social, environmental, and traceability self-assessments.
Before her immersion in the apparel industry, Brianna’s journey led her to post-civil war Uganda, where she contributed to agribusiness initiatives along the northern Ugandan and South Sudanese border.
Additionally, she resided in South Africa, dedicating her time to the study of human rights and race relations.
Geoff Hucker // Founder of Work For Impact
Geoff is a distinguished figure in the nonprofit and social enterprise arena with an impressive track record of over 18 years of experience. His fervent advocacy revolves around socially responsible, purpose-driven businesses.
Notably, he is the visionary behind the establishment, leadership, and expansion of the acclaimed charity, Beyond The Orphanage.
This firsthand experience equips him with an intimate understanding of the unique challenges that NFP/NGO and For Purpose organizations grapple with, particularly in the realms of talent acquisition, engagement, and retention.
Geoff’s proficiency extends deeply into the realm of For Purpose leadership, encompassing matters of global and regional governance and compliance.
His expertise also encompasses the art of constructing high-performing remote global workforces, a skill set that seamlessly aligns with an organization’s objectives and its board’s overarching goals.
Rooted in his entrepreneurial acumen and a profound awareness of the most pressing global socio-economic issues, Geoff took the bold step of founding Work For Impact.
This transformative platform has been meticulously designed to serve NFP and For Purpose organizations.
It aids them in engaging premier on-demand talent, adapting to the evolving landscape of work, implementing agile work practices, and positioning themselves as vanguards in the realm of socially responsible freelance endeavors.
Robin Tolkan-Doyle // Founder of Beautyologie
In her mid-twenties, Robin Tolkan-Doyle embarked on a dynamic journey, traversing through various media outlets, including prominent names like People magazine and Channel One News.
Her trajectory led her to a coveted role as a beauty editor for an inspirational teen magazine, a position that granted her the privilege of testing and chronicling an array of beauty products.
This marked the genesis of her career, which encompassed years of freelancing, writing, and editing for esteemed publications and websites.
In a remarkable stride, she birthed her own beauty accessory brand, Wrap Star, which graced the pages of national magazines and secured coveted shelf space on Fifth Avenue and Robertson Blvd.
The subsequent chapter of Robin’s career unfolded within the realm of public relations and marketing, specifically focused on beauty and fashion accessories.
Over a span of 15 years, she helmed the boutique agency, Charmed PR. Amidst the myriad accomplishments that defined her journey, Robin derives immense satisfaction from her role in cultivating a fervent following for Baby Foot, a foot care product.
Her adept efforts propelled clean beauty brands like The Better Skin Co. and C’est Moi Beauty to secure substantial national sales accounts.
Notably, she played a pivotal part in propelling the award-winning documentary, Toxic Beauty, into the media spotlight, contributing to the consequential removal of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products from U.S. shelves in May 2020.
While beauty held a prominent position in Robin’s professional life, her focus has recently evolved. The pandemic coincided with a transformative trip to India, reshaping her perspective on the consumer industry.
This firsthand exposure to the repercussions of western consumer behavior on developing nations spurred a profound realization within her.
Determined to disrupt this cycle, she decided to channel her extensive 25-year experience in beauty and media toward a positive force within an industry she cherishes.
With the advent of Beautyologie, Robin ingeniously crafted a beauty marketplace catering to consumers who prioritize their spending towards businesses that uphold principles of fairness and ethics.
Her endeavor is underpinned by an ardent commitment to present and uplift brands whose products extend beyond skin-deep transformations. Instead, these brands make a palpable impact not only on the surface but also within the broader world we inhabit.
Travis Holoway & Rodney Williams // Founders of SoLo Funds
SoLo Funds is a mobile lending exchange that connects lenders and borrowers to provide more affordable access to loans under $1,000. The company was founded in 2018 by Travis Holoway and Rodney Williams in response to the high cost and predatory practices of payday lenders.
SoLo is rooted in the power of community and benevolence. The platform allows borrowers to request loans from other members of the SoLo community, and lenders to offer loans to borrowers in need.
SoLo loans are typically repaid within 30 days, and interest rates are much lower than those charged by payday lenders.
The SoLo founders, Travis and Rodney, are both passionate about financial inclusion. They believe that everyone deserves access to affordable credit, regardless of their credit history or financial situation.
SoLo is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment where borrowers can get the help they need to achieve their financial goals.
Travis Holoway is a former financial advisor who saw firsthand the financial struggles of many Americans. He is passionate about creating a more just and equitable financial system.
Rodney Williams is a marketing and branding expert with a strong track record of success. He is committed to using his skills to help SoLo grow and reach more people in need.
Together, Travis and Rodney are building a better financial future for everyone. SoLo is a force for good in the world, and it is changing the way people access credit.
Dan Lammot // Founder of threshold.world
Dan is a serial entrepreneur and ocean advocate, Dan is the co-founder and CEO of threshold.world and brings over a decade of leadership experience in the non-profit technology sector.
Dan and Lina Pérez co-founded threshold.world with the goal of delivering and evolving a new generation of impact technology that leaves things better than they found them.
Earlier in his career, Dan co-founded and was CEO of roundCorner, a leading solution provider of enterprise nonprofit fundraising and grant management solutions, which was acquired by Salesforce.org in 2019.
Dan also serves on the board of the Surfrider Foundation, a grassroots organization committed to protecting and preserving our ocean and beaches.
Shannon Falconer // Co-founder of Because, Animals
Shannon Falconer, a scientist renowned for her expertise in cell culture, microbiome studies, chemical-genetic investigations, and molecular mechanism-of-action studies, stands as a co-founder of Because Animals.
This pioneering startup leverages scientific innovation to craft a compassionate, cultured meat-based approach to crafting sustainable pet food, tailored for the well-being of dogs and cats.
Shannon and her co-founder, Josh, jointly devoted years of their time to a Toronto-based cat rescue initiative.
Their shared commitment revolved around elevating the lives of homeless felines and addressing the overpopulation crisis among strays and ferals.
However, their deep-seated concern encompassed the quality of nutrition provided to these cats—over-processed, excessively supplemented meats sourced from animals ill-suited for feline consumption.
Furthermore, they recognized the detrimental ecological impact of factory farms, the predominant source of pet food, which reverberates across climate, environment, and animal welfare.
Amidst Shannon’s role as a microbiologist at Stanford University and Josh’s pursuit of an MBA from Indiana University, a solution crystallized for the issue that both had contemplated extensively:
How could pets be nourished without inflicting harm on other creatures or the planet? The resounding response: Because, Animals.
Because, Animals embodies an audacious mission: Crafting the most nourishing and ecologically sustainable pet food conceivable for dogs and cats, while maintaining an unwavering commitment to animal welfare and the environment’s well-being.
By rallying behind Because Animals, you contribute to the cessation of raising farm animals for eventual slaughter.
This step toward fewer factory farms holds the promise of mitigating their profound impact on rainforests, oceans, and the global climate. Simultaneously, your support plays an instrumental role in the genesis of more wholesome, safer pet nutrition.
Alex Mclean & Etienne Lapierre // Founders of Alveole
Alvéole helps businesses, schools, and various organizations meet their engagement and sustainability goals by bringing bees to their building.
The company provides both a turnkey educational service and an exceptional, meaningful experience. Their goal is to make people fall in love with bees, build ecological awareness, and in time, more sustainable cities and food systems.
From a childhood friends’ innovative take on conventional beekeeping, to backyard urban beekeeping, to a global urban beekeeping adventure to reconnect city folks to nature, the Alvéole colony has been fostering innovation since 2013.
The now global social company has completely flipped the conventional beekeeping model, from one person taking care of 1,000 honey bee hives, to 1,000 people coming together around a single one.
Today, they’ve swarmed to major cities across North America, and are now all the way across the Atlantic in Paris and other European cities.
By installing honey bee hives in cities across the world and fostering environmental awareness, they hope that companies and people will take action to protect bees and all pollinators, and begin to rethink their responsibility towards the environment.
Omar Itani // Founder of FabricAID
Omar is the founder of FabricAID, a social enterprise aiming to establish a social, ethical and sustainable value chain in the fashion industry.
FabricAID has developed multiple concepts, including Souk el Khlanj, a recommerce store targeting vulnerable people with good quality clothing at extremely affordable prices.
The organization was started in October 2017 in Lebanon from a living room.
Today more than 92 full-time employees are active at FabricAID to reduce clothing waste and have operations in Lebanon and Jordan. In 2022 they’re opening in a new country, Egypt.
For their efforts FabricAID received the Champion of the Earth Award West Asia by UNEP in 2019, WEMED Award for Sustainable Scale-Up companies in the Mediterranean and the MENA TAKREEM award in 2021.
Kaushik Kappangantulu // Founder of Kheyti
Kaushik has spent the last 11 years building scalable social enterprises serving the rural poor. He currently runs Kheyti, a start-up that helps small farmers battle income variability through the Greenhouse-in-a-Box, a low cost greenhouse bundled with services.
Kheyti creates technology solutions for small farmers. Kheyti designs, adapts, and implements low-cost farming solutions that help small farmers increase yield and predictability of produce.
They combine these technologies with end-to-end support to give these farmers a seamless path towards income increase.
Kheyti has developed a “Greenhouse-in-a-box” – an affordable, modular greenhouse bundled with full stack services that uses 90% less water, grows 7 times more food and gives farmers a steady dependable income.
Bryan Bolling // Founder of Beringei Clothing
Beringei emerged from a fundamental realization: the fashion industry stands as an antiquated, wasteful, and stagnant entity. Even esteemed authorities like WWD, dubbed “the fashion bible,” reveal that among the 37 major brands, none have taken substantial strides toward sustainability.
Their journey toward meaningful progress would span 7-8 years, underlining the dire need for transformation.
The remedy lies in a strategic shift in the business model, infused with the positive potential of technology.
Beringei establishes symbiotic bonds between designers and the community, propelling the discovery and creation of the next groundbreaking trends while curbing the global impact of the fashion realm.
Each piece of apparel is a unique masterpiece meticulously crafted by independent designers, infusing fresh vitality and ingenuity into the fashion landscape.
These creations undergo monthly rotation, ensuring consumers are consistently presented with an array of captivating designs to choose from.
Marrying a fashion-centric social media platform with engagement, voting mechanisms, pre-sales, and sentiment analysis within the community, Beringei embarks on a manufacturing journey driven solely by consumer demand.
Products come to life only when the community expresses its desire, and production volumes align with market demand.
Embracing low-waste manufacturing facilities, Beringei upholds a commitment to charitable donations, actively striving to counteract the detrimental effects of the fashion industry.
In a landscape where traditional fashion leaders resist change, Beringei champions a grassroots approach to industry transformation.
Bryan Bolling, the visionary behind Beringei Clothing, brings an illustrious 19-year career in technology startups, boasting successful financial exits from four distinct ventures.
Bolstered by the triumph of his initial personal business endeavor spanning three years, Bryan now channels those proceeds to bootstrap Beringei Clothing.
For Bryan, Beringei transcends business—it’s a labor of passion, a conduit for empowering others in their entrepreneurial endeavors, especially those who are taking their first steps.
After thorough research, fashion emerged as the ideal focal point for this transformative model.
The industry’s impact on groundwater pollution, textile landfill waste, CO2 emissions, birth defects, and exploitative labor practices, particularly involving women and children, underscored the urgency for change.
Bryan’s aspiration is unequivocal—to wield his ventures as vehicles of positive global impact. Within the Beringei umbrella, he envisions fashion designers as future leaders who not only shape the industry but also set new standards for ethical and sustainable business practices.
Nivi Achanta // Founder of Soapbox Project
Nivi has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and all things tech. Think those three things don’t go together? Think again. She’s here to inform us about the intersection of the tech economy and how we can use new resources to help save the world.
Nivi was once told that in order to stand out and leave a large impact on the world, you must run towards the fire. She took that advice to heart.
She is working to make it easy for busy people like you to tackle issues they care about – whether that’s wildfires and climate change, racial justice, or more.
Nivi is the founder and CEO of Soapbox Project.
They make social impact easy for busy people. Their lightweight social justice funnel starts with bite-sized climate action plans, scales up through monthly action hours, and engages people further through a membership community focused on local action.
Prior to Soapbox, Nivi launched Accenture’s Northern California disaster response program after the 2018 Camp Fire, which got recognition from CEO Julie Sweet.
She currently serves on the board of Disaster Tech, advising on content that highlights community resilience in the face of climate disasters.
Hugues Didier and Vulfran de Richoufftz // Founders of PANAFRICA
A little over half a decade ago, Hugues and his co-founder, Vulfran de Richoufftz, embarked on a transformative journey. They relinquished their established careers and embarked on a path of creativity and societal impact.
This marked the inception of PANAFRICA, a venture dedicated to revolutionizing sneaker production with a blend of reverence for the creators and an unwavering commitment to addressing the social, economic, and environmental consequences of their endeavors.
Their commitment extends beyond innovation in textiles and materials—evident in their pioneering returnable and recyclable sneaker, The ARUSHA. Hugues and Vulfran channel not only resources but also their fervent efforts into the well-being and futures of their workforce.
To foster workshop growth and ensure enduring employment, PANAFRICA adopts a distinctive approach by crafting one collection over a span of six months.
This deliberate choice avoids the pitfalls of rapid mass production, guaranteeing each worker an immersive experience in the PANAFRICA production process, augmented working conditions anchored in transparency and enduring contracts, and a workload distributed over a more extended timeline.
The purchase of PANAFRICA sneakers catalyzes support for impactful initiatives through the WALK FOR SCHOOL program, which aims to facilitate access to education and vocational training in Africa.
With every pair of sneakers procured, PANAFRICA contributes 10% of its earnings to a diverse array of associations, propelling the pursuit of positive change.
Mohamed Awale // Founder of Suave Kenya
Rooted in the essence of Gikomba, East Africa’s sprawling open-air flea market, a wellspring of inspiration emerges. Here, garments embark on a journey to find fresh purpose or succumb to the bleak fate of landfills. Suave Kenya stands firm against the notion of wasteful disposal.
Initiated by Mohamed Awale, Suave Kenya materialized as a beacon of sustainability, steadfast in its commitment to waste reduction.
Emanating its inception in 2014, this brand unfurls a spectrum of leather goods, backpacks, and accessories fashioned from upcycled materials. Spanning the gamut from second-hand clothing to repurposed leather, Suave Kenya’s repertoire boasts an eclectic fusion of designs.
Dynamic and resolute, their creations intertwine vibrant kitenge fabrics and rugged denim, yielding bold and distinctive pieces that exude character.
This innovative brand breathes new life into materials, transforming discarded elements into showcases of style, purpose, and responsible consumption.
Cliff Pollard // Founder of Cream Co. Meats
Cream Co. has embarked on a transformative mission, aimed at reshaping an industry entrenched in commoditization. Their vision is to unveil fresh avenues for individuals to relish animal proteins in a conscientious manner.
With an unwavering commitment, Cream Co. stands beside independent producers, extending support to bring forth meats of unparalleled quality and taste. This endeavor entails introducing cutting-edge initiatives to new horizons and cultivating innovative programs from the ground up.
In their pursuit of excellence, Cream Co. sets a foundational standard—ensuring that all programs are devoid of hormones and antibiotics.
Their partners undergo stringent third-party evaluations, encompassing esteemed certifications such as CCOF Organic, Land to Market™ Regenerative, Certified Humane, Non-GMO Project Verified, and American Grass-fed and Grass-finished.
Cliff’s decade-long immersion in the Bay Area’s culinary landscape has infused him with the vigor of the local food movement.
Over time, he conceived of a transparent marketplace capable of bolstering sustainable and regenerative ranches through an amalgamated, direct marketing model.
Simultaneously, this model offers customers the seamlessness and efficiencies that large-scale distributors typically provide.
Founded in 2016, Cream Co. emerged as a harbinger of parity between mainstream and farm-direct distribution. With an unwavering allegiance to values that prioritize quality over quantity and transparency at every juncture, the company revolutionized the landscape.
Deeply rooted in Oakland, Cream Co. remains resolute in backing local Californian ranches whenever feasible. A majority of their partnerships—over 75%—are forged with small producers in California, Oregon, and Washington.
In the present day, Cream Co. not only distributes and directly markets its offerings but also makes direct investments in over 20 sustainable, regenerative, and family-owned farms.
Fueled by a team of seasoned industry professionals, united by a shared commitment to preserving the Bay’s culinary community, Cream Co. consistently funnels resources into refining their processing facility and strengthening their ties with Oakland.
Rahama Wright // Founder of Shea Yeleen
Rahama Wright is blazing a trail towards economic empowerment for women-led shea butter cooperatives in Ghana, creating sustainable livelihoods with fair wages. Her journey is rooted in a deep awareness of global inequalities and a passionate drive to advance women’s economic independence.
With unrelenting determination and a distinct lack of traditional business expertise, she founded Shea Yeleen, a social impact enterprise dedicated to financial empowerment and ethical sourcing.
Shea Yeleen challenges conventional beauty standards, introducing a new paradigm where pampering our skin with the finest, purest ingredients is inherently connected to uplifting women worldwide.
Guided by the belief that the well-being of our bodies, communities, and the planet are intertwined, the company champions a transformative philosophy. It envisions beauty as a catalyst for reshaping business practices and creating a future marked by fairness and inclusivity.
Going beyond the surface, their meticulously handcrafted products carry a deeper purpose—each purchase serves as a direct conduit for the financial independence of Ghanaian women, strengthening entire communities.
In its current iteration, this innovative model has already facilitated the education of more than 268 children.
Rahama’s thoughtfully crafted supply chain evolved from her Peace Corps service in 2005, a period when her West African heritage was rekindled.
This awakening drove her to establish a social impact enterprise that compensates producers at a rate five times the local minimum wage, creating a ripple effect of prosperity across interconnected communities.
The brand’s signature lies in the Yeleen Sourced proprietary process—a fusion of financial empowerment, community development, traditional production methods, and an unwavering commitment to organically and sustainably sourced ingredients, all nurtured with ethical care.
This unique blend sets Shea Yeleen apart, underscoring its steadfast dedication to holistic impact and ethical excellence.
David Cutler // Co-founder of Nutshell Coolers
David serves as the co-founder and CEO at Fortuna Cools, spearheading the company’s pioneering drive to shift from plastic foam to natural fiber packaging, thereby ameliorating supply chain waste.
Collaborating with his peers, he was instrumental in the conception of Fortuna’s Coconut Cooler, developed in collaboration with partners in Southeast Asia.
This endeavor laid the foundation for the launch of the Nutshell Sustainable Cooler—a venture that extends the fusion of sustainability and functionality to the realm of consumer coolers.
Preceding his journey with Fortuna, David donned the hat of a database management consultant in Asia, followed by a stint as a policy analyst in Washington DC.
With academic roots grounded in Middlebury College, where he majored in politics, David further enriched his intellectual arsenal by securing a Master’s in Environmental Policy from Stanford University.
Fortuna Cools spearheads the transformative displacement of plastic foam insulation with an innovative alternative.
This dynamic entails leveraging coconut fiber, a residual byproduct of the expansive coconut meat industry. A staggering nine billion coconut husks meet a fiery end as waste through incineration annually in the Philippines alone.
Fortuna’s innovation, entailing coconut fiber insulation, circumvents the emission of CO2 from incineration while simultaneously affording marginalized coconut farmers supplemental income.
By partnering with rural communities in the Philippines, Fortuna constructs durable coolers with long lifespans—a testament to their unwavering commitment to impact integration within each Fortuna Cooler sold.
Representing Fortuna’s inaugural consumer offering, the Nutshell Cooler emerges as a bastion of modern sustainability.
This cooler amalgamates resilience and eco-friendliness, crafting a thoughtful accessory for outdoor enthusiasts.
Infused with insulation from upcycled coconut husks, which otherwise would have met a fate of wasteful incineration, Nutshell stands as a tangible embodiment of Fortuna’s ethos of transforming waste into meaningful, functional innovation.
Jonas Brandau, Marcus Gilles and Andreas Pursian-Ehrlich
Klima stands as the premier app for taking immediate climate action! Engage in a swift calculation of your carbon footprint and achieve complete neutralization of your CO2e emissions within a mere three minutes.
The modus operandi? Channeling resources into science-grounded climate initiatives designed to either capture or deter equivalent emissions elsewhere. What follows is an immersion into the realm of sustainable footprint reduction, amplifying your positive influence.
The driving force behind Klima lies in its unwavering mission: rendering climate action accessible to all. Across the globe, countless individuals hunger for a means to combat climate change.
The questions reverberate: How can I effect change? Do my actions truly hold weight? What course of action yields the most substantial impact? Klima emerges as the tailored answer.
Your actions wield significance. Every choice—from your attire to your cuisine—incurs a carbon price. Offsets serve as the corrective mechanism, ushering in a balance while funding transformative solutions for a brighter tomorrow.
At Klima’s core resides an ardent aspiration: simplifying optimal decisions to the tap of a button. Their climate app is a manifestation of simplicity, transparency, and an unabashed sense of joy.
Offsets are sourced through a stringent, science-driven methodology. Each offset undertaken bears the hallmark of measurable change in the ceaseless battle for our planet’s wellbeing.
Rob & Mart Drake-Knight // Founders of Teemill
In the clothing industry, products are usually manufactured in large volumes – great for keeping costs down, but bad for the environment, as hundreds of thousands of tonnes of unsold clothes end up in landfill every year.
Less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing. Along with his brother Rob, Martin Drake-Knight, decided he wanted to tackle this issue head on, and so set about developing clothing that would live forever.
Rob & Mart Drake-Knight were born in Newport on the Isle of Wight. Entrepreneurship started early; Mart’s most successful inventions (a fold up surfboard, a wind powered street light and a d-i-y downhill go-kart) all made it to the business proposal / patent stage thanks to older brother Rob’s appetite for business.
At 20 and 22, the pair started Rapanui from their mum’s garden shed 15 years ago with £200 ($250) with ambitions to change the fashion industry.
After the pair started Rapanui they built a platform to share the tech online so anyone can start their own brand, or plug in an existing brand to the supply chain via the cloud. They called this Teemill.
With Teemill, anyone in the world is able to launch a fully customised website and online store, design products and track their success – all from their phone or laptop.
The products they design are ethically made in real time, produced by renewable energy, with organic cotton and shipped directly to the customer, leaving users with the profit.
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