SDG12 – Responsible Consumption and Production

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

041, Joy McBrien, Fair Anita | Beautiful Products with a Powerful Purpose

After experiencing sexual violence in high school, Joy McBrien decided that she wanted to prevent this tragedy from happening to other women. When she read about the high incidence of violence against women in Peru, she decided to travel there. As an 18 year-old, she started a non-profit.

Working with local women, she raised funds and built a women’s shelter. Over the next six years, Joy visited 18 countries, listening closely to the needs of women. Through these conversations, Joy began to deeply understand the relationship between poverty and violence against women. She understood that the best path to empowerment was through economic development. In other words, jobs.

Today, Joy is the founder of Fair Anita, a social enterprise that empowers women around the world through dignified jobs and fair trade relationships. Fair Anita currently works with 8,000 women in 16 countries.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Joy McBrien:

“I wanted to create a systems-changing solution that would attack sexual violence at its source.”

“I don’t want to have to ever sell something based off of pity. That’s not creating an empathetic relationship between artisan and consumer.”

“We’re creating products that millennials in the US want, at a price point that they’re willing to pay. Therefore we’ve created jobs for thousands of women around the world. And because they have this job, they can leave an abusive partner, or they are seen as having more worth in their own home. They are empowered.”

“With millennials, you have to be authentic and transparent and engage them in the process.”

Fair Anita Quote Giveaway Announcement!

If you love what you hear from Joy McBrien and want to support Fair Anita, you can join our giveaway. Click here for details.

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

041, Joy McBrien, Fair Anita | Beautiful Products with a Powerful Purpose

032, Liz Forkin Bohannon, Sseko Designs | Fashion that Educates Young Women

Liz Forkin Bohannon, Sseko Designs

Liz Forkin Bohannon, Sseko Designs

Liz Forkin Bohannon grew up in the Midwest. She attended the University of Missouri and studied journalism. There, she began to develop a passion for supporting women and girls living in extreme poverty, especially those living in conflict and post-conflict zones. After graduation, she worked for a couple of months in a large communications firm. One day, while working in a cubicle, she made a decision that would change the course of her life. She purchased a one-way ticket to Uganda.

Once in Uganda, here’s what she found. There is a 9-month gap between high school and university. Because Uganda is a cash-based economy, it is expected that the student will go to their village, find meaningful employment, and save the money for college. Unfortunately, there are not always jobs to be found. This is especially true for young women. So, many women do not advance beyond high school.

After trying a few other ideas (even a chicken farm!), Liz remembered a pair of funky sandals she had cobbled together as a college student. Though, at the time she was not a fan of fashion, Liz tried an experiment. She started a company that made sandals in Uganda.

Until now, Uganda has not been known for footwear, so Liz had to invent everything from the ground up, literally. Her first factory was a patch of grass with foot-pumped sewing machines. She also had to build the market to buy the sandals.

Today, Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand that is based in east Africa making much more than sandals. They use fashion and design to provide economic and educational opportunities to women and girls.

Key quotes from the interview:

“I realized, growing up in middle class, Midwestern America, I didn’t have a ton of experience of working with women living in extreme poverty or in conflict zones. So I bought a one-way plane ticket to Uganda.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”When I went to school, ‘social enterprise’ was not a thing. @lizbohannon”]

“I knew that I was a mission-driven kind of person and if I was going to give my life to something, it needed to be something that I could stand back and say that I am actively participating in building the world that I want to live in.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”You can imagine, there were people in my life who did not think that was the most prudent decision. @lizbohannon”]

“My first thought, being a white, pretty well resourced American, in Africa for the first time, was, like, no-brainer! We’re going to start a charity.”

“One of the biggest benefits I had was, I didn’t go to Uganda to start anything. I went to Uganda to be a journalist.”

“When I was in college, I had no interest in fashion.”

“I thought that if you were into fashion, that very distinctly meant in my college brain that you were either shallow or materialistic and so I was not interested in you or what you cared about…which makes me a huge brat. Now my whole life is eating humble pie.”

“We recognized really quickly that I can sell a certain number of sandals based on the story..but if I really want Sseko to be scalable and sustainable, and more than a glorified charity that happens to have a product attached to it, that I had to start thinking about this as I would if there were no story attached.”

“I see way too many social entrepreneurs rely far too heavily on their impact, instead of their product and instead of their brand.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”Last year, the president of Uganda showed up at our workshop. @lizbohannon”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”Poverty is complex…and sometimes that does not translate into a great marketing message. @lizbohannon”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”I’ve become increasingly aware of how toxic the concept of the silver bullet is. @lizbohannon”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”We’re looking for 3,000 women who want to be the CEO of Sseko in their community. @lizbohannon”]

Resources:

032, Liz Forkin Bohannon, Sseko Designs | Fashion that Educates Young Women

030, Jeffrey Hollender, Sustain Natural | A Systems Thinking Approach to Greater Good

If Jeffrey Hollender’s name is familiar to you, it would not be surprising. As the cofounder of Seventh Generation, the author of a half dozen books, and a frequent speaker on using business to do good in the world, he’s a natural fit for a conversation with Social Entrepreneur. But he did not come on the podcast to talk about his past accomplishments. He’s busy taking a systemic approach to his latest business Sustain Natural.

Through Sustain, Jeffrey is connecting the dots between condoms, hunger, health care, poverty, and climate change. Yes, that’s right. I said condoms…and lubricants and wipes. All of which are fair trade, organic and sustainably produced. And, Sustain donates 10% of their profits to help poorer women access health care such as STD testing and breast examinations.

In this interview, Jeffrey talks about the importance of systems thinking in order to take on some of our most pressing problems. He describes the experience of being forced out of the company that he had built and he gives solid advice from his lessons learned.

Key quotes from the interview:

[spp-tweet tweet=”Much of what we consider natural, sustainable products, are less bad rather than good. @JeffHollender”]

“My insight is that we need to move to what I call net-positive businesses: businesses that are providing a net positive effect on the planet.”

“If you were going to hire an employee, you would ask the employee for three references and you call up these people and you ask them what it was like to have this person working for you. Well, we don’t do that when it comes to investors.”

“If we taught first grade children systems thinking, so that they could anticipate the unintended consequences of their actions, that might the most important thing we could do to create a more just, equitable and happy world.”

“It is not easy to be an entrepreneur. You will run across no shortage of challenges and roadblocks. And it is really, really, really important that you choose to do something that you are deeply passionate and committed to. Otherwise there are too many reasons for you to walk away and give up.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”You really have to think, does this business idea help you become the person you want to be? @JeffHollender”]

Books by Jeffrey Hollender:

Resources:

030, Jeffrey Hollender, Sustain Natural | A Systems Thinking Approach to Greater Good