SDG12 – Responsible Consumption and Production

These social entrepreneurs are achieving Sustainable Development Goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Production: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

133, Rashmi Bharti, AVANI Society | Create Sustainable Livelihood Through an Ethical, Green Brand

AVANI is creating sustainable livelihood for women in the Himalayas.

The story of AVANI is really two stories. There is the story of the business and it is the story of their products.

The story of the business is not unlike many businesses. Rashmi Bharti and her husband found unmet needs, looked around for the assets at hand, and then applied appropriate technology to solve the problems. The twist to this story is that it takes place in the remote Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, located in the middle ranges of the Central Himalayan region.

But this is also the story of the products produced by the Kumaon Earthcraft Cooperative. They create hand-crafted finished goods for conscious consumers.

Rashmi grew up in Delhi. After obtaining her degree in mathematics, she and her husband wanted their lives and their work to be aligned. Rashmi told me that when they moved to the Kumaon region, “We didn’t have a blueprint. We just followed as needs emerged.”

One immediate need that they found was that the electricity was often unavailable for long periods of time. They thought that they could improve energy access by simply moving the production and consumption of electricity closer to one another. And so, they used the abundant resources at hand to create an energy company. They noticed that there was an abundance of pine needles. Pine needles are a source of frequent wildfires in the region. AVANI started producing electricity from pine needles. They also produce solar energy.

Their energy production is a social business, not a charity. They insist that their customers pay. When poorer customers could not pay, they looked for ways to create livelihood.

Within the villages, they found that most of the men had migrated to the cities or to the military to make a living. That left a population of socially vulnerable women, such as widows, physically challenged or abandoned by their husbands. These women and girls had no source of income.

Because the middle school was a long distance from the village, girls were often not educated beyond the fifth grade. These girls were at home and were often married off, even if they were not yet eighteen years-old.

To create a livelihood for these women and girls, AVANI created an artisan-owned cooperative called “Kumaon Earthcraft Cooperative.” Kumaon Earthcraft is a social enterprise based on the traditional skills of hand-spinning and hand weaving. The women produce finished goods from hand-spun yarn, dyed with plant based pigments, produced by local farmers. Young girls became trainees, which lead to livelihood and often leads to a delay in the age of marriage.

AVANI also produces natural detergents and natural dyes which they use in their products and supply to other companies.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Rashmi Bharti

“There was always the belief that my work and life should be contiguous.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We didn’t have a blueprint. We just followed as needs emerged.’ Rashmi Bharti, @Avanikumaon”]

“The production and consumption of energy, if it close to each other, the reliability increases.”

“It was a model where we were insisting that people should pay.”

“If we wanted the poorest of the poor to participate, then increasing their income becomes our responsibility too.”

“We looked for traditional skills.”

“We started with 20 families and over the years this enterprises has grown to about 50 villages. It benefits about 1,500 families at the moment.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We are located seven hours from the nearest train station.’ Rashmi Bharti, @Avanikumaon“]

“We decided to take these school dropout girls, between the age of 15 and 17, as vocational trainees.”

“The age of marriage was delayed, sometimes eight to ten years.”

“For the last 14 years, this enterprise has been bringing income every month.”

‘[spp-tweet tweet=”The economic empowerment led to this change.’ Rashmi Bharti, @Avanikumaon“]

“We are addressing the entire cycle from fiber to fabric.”

“We want to develop a mountain brand – an acknowledgement for local weavers.”

“Our job is to identify local skills available and to create product lines that cater to them.”

“We are creating completely natural products that are hand knitted.”

“We were very conscious that the dies we use should not cause soil and water pollution.”

“We are making colorings from local plants and providing livelihood to people.”

“We are the only company I know of who is making pure bees wax crayons with natural colorants.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Follow your dream.’ Rashmi Bharti, @Avanikumaon“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Be willing to work hard.’ Rashmi Bharti, @Avanikumaon“]

“The results don’t come very soon.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We as urban people need to learn how to slow down.’ Rashmi Bharti, @Avanikumaon“]

“Our job is to learn how to function in a way which is in harmony with where we are working.”

“It’s not about decreasing consumption, but being very conscious of how much and what we buy.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘People want natural, sustainable and cheap. It doesn’t work.’ Rashmi Bharti, @Avanikumaon“]

“When we buy, we really must look at where it is coming from, and look for people who are working in an environmentally sustainable way.”

“We as consumers should leave a very small footprint on this earth. Then only have we lived well.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

132, Nina Smith, GoodWeave International | End Child Labor with a Market-Based Approach

Nina Smith has been thinking about social justice since she was eight years old. It’s natural that today she is working to end child labor.

You might think that child labor is a thing of the past, relegated to black and white pictures from the 1940s. Unfortunate for millions of children around the world, that is not true. According to the Global Slavery Index, 45.8 million people are enslaved in the world today. In the handmade carpet industry alone there are nearly a quarter of a million children who are being exploited.

Nina Smith grew up in a Jewish household, where her grandmother taught her the Jewish tradition of tzedakah, or social justice. As an eight-year-old, she was first introduced to her cousin Mark. She was told by her mother and grandmother that Mark would tell her and her sister a story. The story, as it turns out, was the story of the holocaust. “That was the first time I understood about the injustices in the world,” she told me.

Nina sees echoes of this injustice in the lives of modern-day slaves. “Very much my childhood influenced the way that I respond to this kind of thing now. People all over the world knew it was happening, the information was there, but people didn’t act soon enough or strongly enough.” She said of child labor, “It’s touching every one of us through the products that we buy.”

GoodWeave is transforming the rug industry by certifying child-labor-free rugs. To earn the GoodWeave label, manufacturers must meet certifications standards. They must also agree to random, independent inspections.

GoodWeave has freed more than 3,700 children from slave labor. They have reduced child labor by 80% in the handmade carpet industry of South Asia. Children who are rescued, are offered schooling and other basic needs. GoodWeave also prevents child labor by providing opportunities to at-risk children.

GoodWeave is expanding their market-based approach to eliminating child labor to new sectors such as apparel, home textiles and agricultural products.

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

131, Paul Rice, Fair Trade USA | Vote with Your Dollars

Fair Trade USA fights poverty by matching conscious consumers with responsible companies.

Increasingly, consumers are seeking out fair trade products. Almost 60% of US consumers are aware of the Fair Trade Certified label. Back in August when we spoke, Paul Rice told me, “I think it’s very empowering for people to realize that they can only vote for president once every four years, but they can vote for a better world with their shopping dollars, every single day.”

Paul knew from a young age that he wanted to work in the social justice movement. He studied agricultural development and sustainability. When he graduated from college, he went to Nicaragua for what he thought would be a one-year visit. He ended up staying for eleven years. While he was there, he worked in agricultural development projects, many of them aimed at lifting farmers out of poverty. Paul told me, “We were just not effective at helping farmers in the communities to develop their own capacity to solve their own problems.”

In 1990, Paul first heard about “fair traders” in Europe. That summer, Paul organized Nicaragua’s first fair trade co-op. In their first year, twenty farmers joined the co-op. They produced one shipping container of coffee for sale. The farmers sold their coffee to Equal Exchange in Boston, for $1.20 per pound. At the time, the local price for coffee was $0.10 per pound.

Over the next four years, Paul grew the co-op to 3,000 families. They exported over 100 containers of fair trade coffee on an annual basis. The farm families used the profits to engage in social, environmental and economic development. They dug wells, built schools and ran health programs. They trained women to be entrepreneurs. They started an organic certification program. Besides the obvious benefits to fair trade, there were less visual impacts as well, such as hope, pride and dignity. All of these benefits were thanks to the model of direct and equitable trade.

After four years, Paul realized that, while the fair trade movement was going well in Europe, it was still in a nascent state in the United States. “I just realized that fair trade was a model that needed to extend to the US,” he said.

He returned to the US, where he enrolled in an MBA program. “I knew how to organize farmers up in the hills,” Paul told me, “but I didn’t know how to organize the US business community.”

Today, Fair Trade USA is the leading independent certifier of fair trade products in the US. They work with farmers and workers in 80 countries across more than 30 product categories. These producers have earned more than $44 Million in premiums. Over 1,000 US Brands carry fair trade certified products.

Fair Trade USA has recently started certifying new product lines such as fish, clothing and household goods. While they have traditionally worked with producers across the global south, they have plans to begin certifying products produced in the United States.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Paul Rice

“I decided at the age of 17 that I wanted to dedicate my life to social justice.”

“So much of the international aid that goes out just creates dependency on aid.”

“I heard about these crazy people in Europe who called themselves fair traders.”

“We were getting farmers more than ten times more money than they would have.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘It sparked a movement.’ Paul Rice, @FairTradeUSA”]

“They were learning how to be exporters and truckers and bankers.”

“The market it quite possibly the most powerful force for change that we could hope to have.”

“I pivoted from being an anti-capitalist to embracing social enterprise.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I was a man on a mission.’ Paul Rice, @FairTradeUSA“]

“People, planet and profit – they can go together.”

“There was an elegant link between quality of life for the grower and quality of product.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘All of us learned about fairness on the playground.’ Paul Rice, @FairTradeUSA“]

“Consumers are increasingly asking, where’s my food coming from?”

“The research indicates that anywhere between thirty and fifty percent of shoppers today are taking these values into account when they go to the store.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Social responsibility is good business.’ Paul Rice, @FairTradeUSA“]

“Corporate leaders are realizing that their long-term success, their long-term profitability and their long-term reputation as companies, are intimately connected to their supply chains.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘There are no more secrets in the global supply chain.’ Paul Rice, @FairTradeUSA“]

“Our work in the field, fundamentally, is auditing and certification.”

“We have a very rigorous standard, a 300-point checklist of social, labor and environmental criteria that all of our farmers have to meet.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Fair trade guarantees more money back to the farmer.’ Paul Rice, @FairTradeUSA“]

“We will start to certify farms here in the United States.”

“It is absolutely unconscionable that we would dedicate ourselves to fighting poverty and promoting sustainability around the world, but ignore the problem that is right here in our own back yard.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I believe that saving the planet and saving the species is task number one.’ Paul Rice, @FairTradeUSA“]

“I believe the business community and the conscious consumer movement are probably the most powerful and scalable way to make a difference.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘The concept of social entrepreneurship, for most people is relatively new.’ Paul Rice, @FairTradeUSA“]

“The question is not where you will be most effective. The question is, where will you be happiest? Where is your passion? Because this is a marathon, not a sprint.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘This next generation of social entrepreneurs has the opportunity to save us all.’ Paul Rice, @FairTradeUSA“]

“It may sound crazy that you can change the world with a cup of coffee or a bar of chocolate, but it’s true.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Fair Trade USA:

106, Marta Del Rio, Wasi Organics | Balancing Purpose, Passion and Skills

Can food be both delicious and nutritious? Can business be both profitable and purposeful? Can a company improve nutrition for consumers while improving the lives of smallholder farmers? Yes!

Marta Del Rio’s journey to social entrepreneurship began with her mother. Her mother was a volunteer with the Red Cross. She taught Marta that for those whom much is given, much is required.

Marta spent much of her career as a busy executive with global brands you would recognize: L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Burger King, Mars and American Express. These jobs required long hours and sacrifices. Still, Marta found ways to give back through pro bono work. She wondered, would there be a way for her to combine her purpose, passion, and skills to make an impact.

Marta and her co-founder, Gianina Gandullia spent almost two years working out a market segmentation and supply chain strategy. She started with her desire to make an impact. She chose food, which was her passion. She focused on Peru, her native home. She knew that Peru was the home of some of the world’s superfoods such as maca, cacao, quinoa and purple corn. She selected the needs of farmer associations as her target population for impact. By combining these elements together, Marta co-founded Wasi Organics.

Wasi Organics is a Peruvian producer of organic, healthy snacks. They reduce the poverty gap by sourcing products directly from small Andean farmers’ associations and paying fair pricing.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Marta Del Rio, Wasi Organics

“I had no idea that social entrepreneurship was what I was doing.”

“I started to question what kind of impact I was having as a person.”

“When I went back to Peru I thought there must be a way to make a bigger impact.”

“I knew there had to be a way to build a business that could turn a profit and make a positive impact.”

“What I had been doing in the corporate world was building companies, to make them last.”

“What is needed for a social company that lasts? Purpose? Yes. Passion? Absolutely. And then skills.”

“There are a lot of social entrepreneurs with a wonderful idea, but they come up short on skills and experience some times.”

“I think sustainability for a company is about the impact you make in the world.”

“I thought, how do I make an impact in the food sector – anywhere in the world, but in particularly in Peru?”

“It was a lot of field work, and then literally taking a plane, a train, a truck, a mule…”

“What you cannot do as a small startup is to try to aim for everything.”

“We only work with Peruvian superfoods because that makes us different and our products different from everyone else.”

“That’s how we started. Where are the people who are farming these crops with so much value, potentially? And yet, that value has not been realized.”

“Two years of that was tiring, because you don’t see the products. You’re planting the seeds.”

“We thought at the beginning that it was about telling them ‘We’re going to change your lives,’ but they have heard that a few times.”

“They’ve heard that speech many times. I did not know that. That was one of the initial surprises.”

“What I thought at the beginning would take a few months, took a few years.”

“We don’t work with associations who are looking for charity. We work with associations where the leading families want to regain their dignity.”

“I have basically seven superfoods I work with.”

“I love to cook, so I called a few chefs that I know and asked ‘How can we do something interesting with this?’”

“We thought, let’s start with small markets and see how it scales.”

“We wanted intelligent, patient capital and that is what we found with Acumen.”

“It’s all about word of mouth and building credibility within the association.”

“We move from working with one association to two and from two to three. Basically, we replicate the model.”

“Follow your dreams. It’s never too late. It took me twenty years.”

“Yes, it is much, much, much more difficult to run a profitable social enterprise. But it is much, much, much more satisfying.”

“Before you buy a product or a service, think what’s behind it.”

“One of the best ways to collaborate is to support companies that are making a difference in our world.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

100, Michael Crooke | Sustainable Competitive Advantage through Purpose

Michael Crooke is a thought leader in sustainable competitive advantage at the intersection of vision, purpose and operational excellence.

The first time that Michael Crook boarded an airplane, it was to join the Navy. When he saw the opportunity to become a Navy Seal, he took it. At Basic Underwater Demotion Seal training (BUDS), Michael leaned the importance of teamwork that comes from having a shared purpose. After his time in the Navy, Michael joined Pacific Lumber, an over 100 year-old company with strong environmental and social values. Pacific Lumber was eventually bought in a leveraged buy-out. The new company abandoned Pacific Lumber’s values and began practices such as clear-cutting and cutting close to streams. It wasn’t long before the company was bankrupt. This started Michael on a journey to understand the connection between values and financial performance.

Michael later joined Yakima Products Inc, famous for car-top racks. He originally joined the team to do contract work. As he put it, “I found my tribe,” outdoors people who were passionate about their products. He also spent time as an executive at Moonstone, Kelty Packs, Pearl Izumi, Revolution Living and prAna Living. But the role his is probably best known for is as CEO of Patagonia from 1999 to 2005.

By focusing on values alignment, strategy and operational excellence, he turned around the company and made it a “Best Place to Work.” At times, he told me, Patagonia would receive 300 – 500 applications for a single opening.

It was while at Patagonia that Michael developed the theory of organizational flow. According to Michael, flow happens in organizations when people have values that are aligned, when there is transparency and when people feel like the strategic decisions of the organization are aligned to the values.

Today, Michael Crooke is the Senior Associate Dean of Programs at the University of Oregon He is also the founder of Fifth Normal Form Consulting, counseling high-growth businesses on strategic issues, in particular, developing direct to customer strategies that create an emotional connection to the brand.

Sustainable Competitive Advantage Quotes from Michael Crooke

“There are two parts of strategy. There’s the vision and where we want to be. And then there’s the OE or Operational Effectiveness. And they’re both critical. And in the center of that is a shared purpose.”

“At BUDS, I started with over 120 people and only 17 of us graduated. And the only thing we all had in common was that we were team players.”

“So many of these people that I’m working with, absolutely want to work in a job and work in a field where they feel that they’re contributing, and where they’re making a difference on this planet.”

“What we found with Patagonia, in a study with organic cotton, is that we could charge up to 11% more without changing the demand curve, if we told our story well.”

“We were getting the best and brightest. People wanted to be there.”

“Community is very much a stakeholder. Society in general is a stakeholder.”

“Three-quarters of the world’s GDP is 500 corporations. Business has to change the world. That’s where things are going to happen.”

“If you make sure those values permeate through to the customer or any one of the stakeholders, ultimately you’ll have sustainable competitive advantage.”

“Corporate Social Responsibility, the environmental side of our business, is not going to go away. It’s only going to become more and more prominent in all businesses.”

Sustainable Competitive Advantage Resources:


Special Note: Thanks for the first 100

This is episode 100 of Social Entrepreneur. I wanted to take a moment and thank the thousands of people from more than 140 countries who have downloaded this podcast. You are the reason that we produce Social Entrepreneur every Monday. I’m glad we found one another.

Will you do me a favor? Will you take the time to leave a rating and review on iTunes? It helps get the word out about this valuable resource.

096, Lee Wallace, Peace Coffee | Fair Trade Coffee from Smallholder Farmers

Smallholder farmers grow more than half of the coffee consumed worldwide.

Lee Wallace, Peace Coffee, Fair Trade for Smallholder Farmers

Lee Wallace, Peace Coffee

Imagine if you will, that you are working at a non-profit in Minnesota, focusing on public policy. The phone rings, and the person on the other end says “Hello. This is the Port of Los Angeles. We have 38,000 pounds of green coffee with your name on it. How would you like to pick this up?” You know nothing about coffee or roasting or retail. What would you do?

That is exactly what happened twenty years ago at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. In today’s Social Entrepreneur, Lee Wallace, the Queen Bean of Peace Coffee tells us the rest of the story.

Peace Coffee is a for-profit social enterprise, owned by a nonprofit, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Peace Coffee has a wholesale business that they have been running for about two decades. They also have four retail coffee shops within the Twin Cities, Minnesota.

Last year Peace Coffee purchased 735,000 lbs. of coffee from 12 countries and 20 smallholder farmer cooperatives. In the process, Peace Coffee paid $370,000 in fair trade premiums.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Lee Wallace

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We think hard about how to do the right thing for coffee farmers.’ Lee Wallace of @Peace_Coffee”]

“Our customers named us.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I was trying to find a career that made sense to me in terms of my passions.’ Lee Wallace of @Peace_Coffee“]

“What I was trying to do was find places that sit at the nexus of mission and money.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Pretty quickly I realized that this is a magical place for me. Lee Wallace of @Peace_Coffee“]

“I have always been interested in how organizations work.”

“We spend a lot of our time at work.”

“The Twin Cities is an amazing place to learn about natural foods because we have such a vibrant and thriving co-op ecosystem.”

“My dad really wanted us to understand the history of industry as it came in and out of communities and how that really impacted families in those communities.”

“The original idea was that we would be an importer of all kinds of things.”

“More than 50% of the world’s coffee farmers, farm coffee on very small parcels of land.”

“We come this work with the sense that, what we’re doing is working on trying to elevate the livelihood of an awful lot of people who historically have been very disadvantaged when it comes to the way trade works.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘It’s livelihood, but its community development too.’ Lee Wallace of @Peace_Coffee“]

“Co-ops are stepping in and playing the role of civil society in these communities.”

“People in these communities have ideas and know how they’re going to make their communities better. Our job is to be a good partner on the other side of that.”

“We have a price floor…We believe that below this level is unsustainable for coffee farmers.”

“This company existing 10 years from now is more important than what is happening this month. This company is bigger than all of us.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘You’d be amazed at who would be willing to talk to you.’ Lee Wallace of @Peace_Coffee“]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Upcoming Webinar: How to Make a Difference while Making a Living (HINT: No Ramen Noodles Required)

On July 20, 2016 at Noon US Central time, I am hosting the webinar, “How to Make a Difference while Making a Living (HINT: No Ramen Noodles Required).” In this webinar I will be talking about:

  • How to go from being a compassion person to being a changemaker
  • How to overcome the five most common roadblocks to being a changemaker
  • The seven key characteristics of successful changemakers
  • The ten steps on the path to changemaking

During the webinar, we will be giving away fabulous gifts and prizes. You won’t want to miss this. Register for the webinar today: .

090, Stacy Flynn, Evrnu | Sustainable Fashion Innovation

If you think about sustainable fashion, conscious consumption or the circular economy, you’ll want to meet Stacy Flynn of Evrnu. Evrnu collects cotton garment waste and turns it into new fiber for premium garments.

Stacy knows the textile and apparel industry. As an industry insider with such companies as DuPont, Target and Eddie Bauer, she was responsible for millions if not billions of yards of fabric being produced. However, on a 2010 trip to China, Stacy had a chance to see first-hand the kind of environmental degradation that textile production was creating. She told me “I was shocked awake.” Stacy made a decision to create innovations for sustainable fashion. She felt that she either had to take responsibility for none of the environmental impact, or all of it. This heartfelt decision eventually led to the founding of Evrnu.

In this compelling interview, Stacy tells the story of how Evrnu went from “three beakers and a dream,” to “what looked like dental floss” to a prototype of Levi 511 jeans. She talks about the struggles of inventing a new industry, while dealing with massive corporations and trying to fund new inventions. Stacy tells the unvarnished truth about what it’s like to liquidate your retirement, max out your credit cards and to be on the cusp of an industry revolution.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Stacy Flynn

“30% of all clothing in the world is made from cotton.”

“[It takes] 700 gallons of water to cultivate enough cotton to make a t-shirt.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘In the United States alone we dispose of over 14 million tons of garment waste’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Right now consumers are throwing 80% of all textiles and apparel directly into landfills.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

“When they see a garment with an Evrnu logo in it…they will know that it’s made from old clothing and that it’s garment recyclable.”

“That’s really the challenge: how do we leverage the waste in our local communities to create new fiber and create good jobs?”

“What really caused the catalyst for this innovation was a trip to China that I took in 2010.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘It was shocking to me how devastating the environmental conditions were.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I was shocked awake.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

“I ended up counting how many millions of yards of fabric…or billions, I had created up to that point. And all of a sudden I became linked to the cause of the problem.”

“I got to the point where, either you take responsibility for all of it, or you take responsibility for none of it.”

“I took those three beakers and my dream and I took them into major retailers.”

“When you’re a social entrepreneur, you cannot see failure. All you see is the path that must happen. And it’s not just for me and my business. It’s for everyone on the planet.”

“I liquidated my retirement fund, we maxed out both of our credit cards to get to what looks like dental floss.”

“We took the first fiber and we turned it into yarn. We dyed the yarn by hand. We wove the fabric by hand. And we presented hand-loomed salvaged denim to Levi’s.”

“I was in the global top 5 of the green challenge in Amsterdam. It was the first time a textile or apparel concept had made it that far.”

“Our technology specializes in taking garment waste, breaking it down and making fiber.”

“Even with all of its imperfections, it was like a baby has just been born and it’s in the form of twins: one 511 for them and one 511 for us.”

“We’re able to move really fast. That’s one benefit a startup has.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We were able to create the fabric of the future in less than three months.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

“We need to protect air, water and soil at meta levels. That’s a non-negotiable. It’s game over if we don’t do that.”

“20% of global water contamination comes out of the textile industry.”

“The challenge is, how do we double our capacity over the next ten years, using only the resources at the current capacity today?”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I want to be the first billion dollar social purpose corporation.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

“Business is the single largest catalyst for positive environmental and human change on the planet.”

“There are a million reasons why you shouldn’t do something in the world. But a social entrepreneur only needs one reason why they should.”

“The social entrepreneur is not looking for the easy route because they’re not working for themselves. They’re working for everyone.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Never be afraid to risk everything to see it through.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘In order to change the system, customers have to care.’ @stacyeflynn of @futureofapparel“]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Programming Note

One piece of consistent feedback that we have received from listeners of Social Entrepreneur is that, while listeners love these stories, they have a hard time keeping up with three episodes per week. As one listener told me, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” So, we’ve made the decision to move Social Entrepreneur to a weekly podcast with new episodes every Monday, starting this week.

Culture Shift Learning Academy

Later in June we will be launching a Beta version of Culture Shift Learning Academy, a comprehensive system to help you flesh out your social impact idea and start achieving it.

Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.

073, Mathieu Senard, Alter Eco Foods | Earth Day Special on Full Circle Sustainability

In celebration of Earth Day 2016, we’re featuring Mathieu Senard of Alter Eco. Alter Eco is a full circle sustainability company – from the earth to the earth. Their products are organic, fair trade, carbon neutral and, even their packaging is biodegradable. Their mission is nothing short of global transformation through ethical relationships with small-scale farmers, and an integral sustainability orientation at every point on the supply chain. Globally, Alter Eco works with about 25,000 small-scale farmers.

For Earth Day 2016 I wanted to feature a food company. After all, of all of the buying decisions we make every day, one of the most frequent and important decisions we make is the kind of food we’re going to consume. As Anna Lappé said,

“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”

Evidently, quite a few people believe that Alter Eco is creating the kind of world that they want. Alter Eco’s US revenues are at $22 million with an additional $20 – 25 million from their French operations. Their year-over year growth has been around 40 % – 50%.

Earth Day Quotes from Mathieu Senard:

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘From cooperatives to cooperatives.’ Mathieu Senard of @AlterEcoSF”]

“We believe cooperation will lead us and give us the tools to build a better world.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘The farmers we work with have on average 1- 2 acres of land.’ Mathieu Senard of @AlterEcoSF“]

“It’s based on cooperatives that are owned by the farmers.”

“It’s been a bit of pioneer work.”

“We went out there, told our stories and gained support from retailers and consumers.”

“We saw that the US was a little late as far as the acceptance of fair-trade products, but the market is so powerful.”

“There were not many venture capitalist funds who wanted to fund a couple of 23 year-olds who wanted to launch a fair trade brand in the US.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘For us, it’s also about working with investors who are likeminded.’ Mathieu Senard of @AlterEcoSF”]

Mentoring Giveaway:

Throughout the month of April, you can win one of ten one-on-one mentoring calls to help you launch or grow your social enterprise. We’ll be drawing each week. To enter, go to

Earth Day 2016 Resources:

073, Mathieu Senard, Alter Eco Foods | Earth Day Special on Full Circle Sustainability

Social Impact Without Being a Startup Founder, with Amanda LaGrange, TechDump

TechDump provides job training and practical experience for adults facing barriers to employment.

Social impact Amanda LaGrange

Amanda LaGrange, TechDump and Tech Discount

Social impact does not necessarily require you to be the founder of a social enterprise. Amanda LaGrange is living proof of that idea. Amanda spent more than seven years at General Mills, including time as a Senior Financial Analyst.

Today, Amanda is the CEO of TechDump. TechDump refurbishes and recycles electronics, and in the process they create jobs for adults facing barriers to employment, especially those who have spent time in the justice system. TechDump accepts anything with a cable, cord or battery that is not a home appliance.

Amanda brings her background in corporate finance to bare on the challenges of scaling a social enterprise.

Social Impact Quotes from Amanda LaGrange:

[spp-tweet tweet=”It takes a certain skill set for a founder to pass on the baton. @GracieLooToday of @TechDumpMN”]

“It wasn’t necessarily that I birthed the idea, but I’ve definitely been a huge part around growing and scaling it.”

“Scaling a social enterprise is one of the most difficult things, because you have to create infrastructure at the same time you’re growing your top line.”

“The United States is home to 5% of the world’s population, and yet we incarcerate 25% of the world’s incarcerated people.”

“We use 25% of the world’s resources and the [Environmental Protection Agency] reports that we’re only recycling 25% of electronic devices used by consumers.”

“There’s no person that’s wasted. There’s no material that’s wasted.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”There’s value and transformation is definitely possible. @GracieLooToday of @TechDumpMN”]

“In the state of Minnesota last year, 50 million pounds of electronic waste was collected for recycling, so you can just imagine how much is sitting in people’s basements.”

“At TechDump last year, we recycled 5 million pounds.”

“From our founding in 2010, we’ve been 98% self-funded.”

“50% of our current income comes from the sale of refurbished electronics.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”The more electronics we take in, the more people we can employ. @GracieLooToday of @TechDumpMN”]

“About half of our customer base is from the commercial side.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”There’s no clear direct path to be a social entrepreneur. @GracieLooToday of @TechDumpMN”]

“Join a [nonprofit] board. You get to practice skills you can’t practice in your day job.”

Social Impact Resources:

Social Impact Without Being a Startup Founder, with Amanda LaGrange, TechDump