When Vision Meets Purpose, with Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet

Hands & Feet creates apparel with inspiring messages and donates 50% of the profits to end childhood hunger.

Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet

Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet

In the US, 13.1 million children struggle with food insecurity. The mission of Hands & Feet is to help end childhood hunger in the United States. According to the company’s Founder, Susan Elwer, “We accomplish this by donating 50% of the profits to our local non-profit partners who are working to end childhood hunger in the United States. There is enough food available in the United States for everyone. The issue is how do we get the food into the hands of the people who need it and at the right time?”

Susan is familiar with food insecurity. “I grew up in a single parent household that relied on welfare for housing, food, and medical needs. Although we had limited financial resources, I never felt like I did without. When it got closer to payday or food stamp day, the contents of our cupboards would dwindle, but I don’t think I gave it much thought.

“Looking back, I can appreciate how good my mom was at meal planning and budgeting. I don’t think it was until around the fourth grade that I realized my circumstances were different than some of my friends. I especially remember never having the option to pack a cold lunch because I received free hot lunch at school. As I got older and realized we didn’t have ‘regular’ money to buy food, trips to the grocery store grew increasingly embarrassing because we had to pay with food stamps. I would typically help with bagging or make myself scarce when it came time to pay.”

Entrepreneurship Was Not in Her Life Plan

She did not grow up imagining herself as an entrepreneur. “As a child, I was quiet and shy. I did what I was told and followed the rules. I didn’t rock the boat – at school or home. As I got older, I knew that if I wanted to have a different life than those I saw around me, I would need to get an education beyond high school. When I first told my mother that I wanted to go to college, she immediately dismissed the idea and said I should get a job instead. At the time her response made me angry. Now, as an adult, I realize she was speaking from a place of fear. She knew she couldn’t help with college expenses so therefore to her; it wasn’t an option.”

Despite the barriers, Susan found a way to complete her degree at Winona State University, where she studies Sociology and Criminal Justice.

“Until four years ago I was a stay at home mother, a role that I loved and embraced wholeheartedly,” Susan says. “When our youngest daughter was in the first grade, I decided to re-enter the workforce. For the past four years, I have worked as an assistant in a pre-school room.”

Turning an Idea into a Business

How did Susan come up with the idea for Hands & Feet? “In late 2015 I was sitting in church and had a vision to create apparel with inspiring and encouraging messages to change the conversation. My vision didn’t go any further than the piece of paper I wrote it on.” She knew it was a good idea, but the idea seemed incomplete. It wasn’t until November 2016, that she came up with a greater purpose for the business.

Susan and Eric Elwer, Hands & Feet

Susan and Eric Elwer, Hands & Feet

“I was working as an assistant in my pre-school classroom. One of the teachers told me that a 4-year-old student of ours had gone the first three months of the school year without a lunch. This broke my heart and brought me to tears. Immediately this brought up memories of growing up on welfare. I was all too familiar with the shame and stigma associated with being on welfare. I knew that this was my opportunity to do something.

“This was when vision met purpose. We took my vision for creating apparel with inspiring messages and combined it with the purpose of helping to end childhood hunger in the United States. In August of 2017, we launched Hands & Feet. We named our company Hands & Feet because we want to be of service to others.”

How did Hands & Feet go beyond the idea phase? “We thought we had a good idea, but we tested the concept with friends, family, and other business people. The feedback we received was extremely positive and encouraging. People agreed that we had a workable concept. From there we reached into our network of people for help on how to build a website, how to produce apparel, how to do PR, to understand who is working on hunger-related issues and more.”

Challenges and Luck

What was their biggest challenge along the way? “One of our biggest challenges continues to be building brand awareness. I have decided not to return to the classroom in the fall so I can devote all my energy to building Hands & Feet.” How have they gotten the word out so far? According to Susan, “Our presence on social media platforms – Facebook and Instagram. Also, we have participated in different pop-up events. This has allowed us to meet our potential customers and tell our story firsthand and build relationships.”

They had a few lucky breaks along the way. “My initial vision for Hands & Feet was to be a retail apparel brand. Shortly after we launched, we had the amazing opportunity to create shirts for the Walk to End Hunger at the Mall of America. Although creating corporate and event-based apparel wasn’t something that we initially thought about offering we quickly realized this is another way to build brand awareness.”

What is Next for Hands & Feet?

“We are in the process of figuring out how to build an infrastructure to support some big corporate opportunities we are pursuing: how to supply hundreds of thousands of shirts for those opportunities. When we do this, our impact will rocket to millions of meals created. Also, we are continuing to build our retail presence organically through a variety of avenues, including pop-ups, makers markets, and other traditional retail outlets.”

Their idea seems to be gaining traction. In 2017, with just a few months of operation, Hands & Feet contributed enough money to their nonprofit partner to provide over 18,000 meals. For 2018 their goal is to create 100,000 meals.

What has been most rewarding for Susan? “The impact Hands & Feet is having in our community and across the United States. In addition, launching my own business has turned me into a dreamer and doer. I’m driven by the unwavering support of my husband Eric and the ability to give my daughters a front row seat to my journey.”

Best Advice for Social Entrepreneurs

What is the best advice that Susan can pass along to early-stage social entrepreneurs? “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one expects you to have all the answers. You will be amazed at how willing people are to share their expertise.” She adds, “Slow down and be present. If I hadn’t slowed down and reflected on the need I saw in one 4-year-old boy’s life – Hands & Feet wouldn’t be here today. When you see an opportunity, move on it! One simple act can make an impact beyond your wildest imagination.”

Social Entrepreneur Quotes by Susan Elwer

“I had a vision to create apparel with inspiring messages.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “If I was going to wear apparel, I wanted that message to mean something to me.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “It didn’t go anywhere except my journal.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “One of the teachers told me, we’ve got a student who has gone the first three months of school without a lunch.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “It brought back memories of my own childhood.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “I didn’t have a why. I didn’t have a purpose.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “In 2016, vision met purpose.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “We wouldn’t know where best to spend those dollars, so let’s go to the experts.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “Wherever you’re purchasing, that’s where those dollars go.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “Our customers want to feel like they’re making an impact in their own community.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “Going hungry, it’s a silent issue. No one wants to talk about it.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “More often than not, it’s working families.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “This is an OK thing. I can go ask for help.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “How exactly are these garments made? That’s the other part of this equation.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “We want to make sure the product itself has a good backstory.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “Now more than ever, consumers are savvy.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “You can’t build a business by yourself.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “Launching Hands & Feet turned me into a dreamer and a doer.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “Nothings going to get done if you’re just sitting there.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “We didn’t really have a goal. We said, let’s just put this out there and see where it goes.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “Hands & Feet is an apparel company, but at the end of the day, our purpose is to create meals for children.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “It shows strength and courage to be able to ask for help.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet “You don’t have to know it all.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet

“There are people in the world who are more than happy to share their time and expertise with you.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet

“If I hadn’t slowed down and reflected on the needs of this one 4-year-old boy, Hands & Feet would not be here.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet

“There are opportunities out there for all of us.” Susan Elwer, Hands & Feet Click To Tweet

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


155, Jehiel Oliver, Hello Tractor | Collaborative Consumption for Smallholder Farmers

Hello Tractor is an AgTech company focused on improving food and income security across sub-Saharan Africa through a tractor sharing platform.

Collaborative Consumption for Smallholder Farmers with Jehiel Oliver, Hello Tractor

Jehiel Oliver, Hello Tractor

Collaborative consumption is reshaping the world. There are the well-known players. For example, Airbnb rents more rooms than Hilton, Marriott, and InterContinental combined. If you want to get around in a city, you can grab a ride with someone via Lyft or pick up a bike with bike sharing services such as Nice Ride Minnesota.

But can collaborative consumption help feed the world? That’s what Hello Tractor is attempting to do.

In Africa and Asia, more than 80% of the food is produced by smallholder farmers. These farmers cannot afford to purchase and maintain a tractor. They depend on manual labor to work their land. With a lack of available labor, they often do not fully cultivate their land. Hello Tractor builds low horsepower tractors, suitable for smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Smallholder farmers can request tractor services by sending a text, just as you might request a Lyft.

Hello Tractor is not just building tractors. They have created a technology platform that can be used by other manufacturers to provide services on-demand.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Jehiel Oliver

“I’ve always been a fan of using commercial markets to reach low-income populations.”

“Most people who access microfinance, earn their income on the farm.”

“The tractor itself is low-tech, but the technology that supports it is fairly sophisticated.”

“We just asked people for advice.” 

“Our biggest asset is a willingness to put yourself out there and sound really stupid.” 

“The upside was clear.”

“We were always putting out fires. I think that was part of the fun.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Get started. Just go. You’ll never have it figured out.” @Jehiel, @HelloTractor”]

“The best learning is not done behind a desk. It’s done out there in the field.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Be bold with your ideas. Because some of these challenges are so massive.” @Jehiel, @HelloTractor”]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

More Stories of Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger

In 2017, we’re emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In February, we are focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger. You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 1 here, Sustainable Development Goal 2 here, or learn about the Sustainable Development Goals here.

154, Vijaya Pastala, Under the Mango Tree | A Hybrid Social Enterprise that Creates Livelihood from Bees

Under the Mango Tree increases agricultural yields by teaching rural farmers to keep bees.

Vijaya Pastala, Under the Mango Tree creates livelihood from Bees

Vijaya Pastala, Under the Mango Tree

Vijaya Pastala and Under the Mango Tree are a good illustration of something that I believe which is, miracles find you while you’re in motion.

Vijaya started experimenting with her business idea in January 2009. By January, 2010, Vijaya had 8,000 rupees in the bank. That’s less than $120 USD. At the time, the monthly cost of running Under the Mango Tree was around 34,000 rupees. Under the Mango Tree was gaining positive press, but beneath the surface, Vijay’s personal savings, which she was using to fund the company, were running out.

During this crisis, Vijaya received a request for a meeting from a stranger. Given all that she was managing, she considered turning down the meeting. It turned out that the stranger was willing to provide the funds needed to meet their operating costs. By May 2010, Under the Mango Tree won the UnLtd India competition, which provided their first seed investment. Other money was to follow, including support from Acumen.

Under the Mango Tree works with marginal farmers, that is farmers who have an income of about $600 per year. They train farmers to transfer wild bees into a bee box. As a result, the farmers increase their productivity, their income and their savings. Under the Mango Tree also helps farmers to gain access to markets for honey and other bee-related products.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Vijaya Pastala

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We work with marginal farmers.” @vijayapastala, @UTMT”]

“There are only five types of bees that make honey and out of those, there are only two bees that can be boxed.”

“It takes a farmer 18 months to become completely at ease with being a beekeeper.”

“We are a honey brand in the market in India.” 

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We have created an ecosystem of beekeeping.” @vijayapastala, @UTMT“]

“We train women’s groups to create a swarm bag or a bee veil.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We’re like a one-stop-shop on beekeeping.” @vijayapastala, @UTMT“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It’s farmers who are training other farmers.” @vijayapastala, @UTMT“]

“Agriculture is something I’ve always worked on.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I understood the importance of sustainability.” @vijayapastala, @UTMT“]

“The hybrid came into being from day one.”

“I realized that, in India, we don’t really showcase the origin of the honey.”

“When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s on your head – everything.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Yields are going up 40% to 60%.” @vijayapastala, @UTMT“]

“We have trained about 700 women beekeepers.”

“We have six women who are training other women to be beekeepers.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Keep knocking on doors.” @vijayapastala, @UTMT“]

“Use your network.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Don’t be shy in asking for help.” @vijayapastala, @UTMT“]

“Set yourself a timeframe.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

More Stories of Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger

In 2017, we’re emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In February, we are focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger. You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 1 here, Sustainable Development Goal 2 here, or learn about the Sustainable Development Goals here.

154, Vijaya Pastala, Under the Mango Tree | A Hybrid Social Enterprise that Creates Livelihood from Bees

153, Matt Moreau and Kori Chilibeck, The Earth Group | Feed and Educate Children

The Earth Group is a social enterprise that exists to feed and educate children around the world.

Feed and educate children with Matt Moreau and Kori Chilibeck, Earth Group

Matt and Kori at the World Food Programme

This month, the Social Entrepreneur Podcast is focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger. So far, we’ve been talking about ways to help people achieve livelihood, so that relief aid is not needed. But, until that is achieved, the world is filled with hungry people, especially children. According to the World Food Programme:

  • 794 million people do not have enough food to live a healthy life.
  • 1 million children die each year because of poor nutrition. That’s 8,493 children dying per day.
  • 66 million primary-school aged children attend classes hungry, across the developing world.
  • The World Food Programme estimates that $3.2 billion is needed per year to reach the 66 million hungry school-aged children.

Where does this money come from? Much of it comes from governments, non-government organizations, religious organizations and private philanthropy. Another source of funds is from social enterprises such as The Earth Group.

Buy Items You Are Already Buying = Feed and Educate Children

The Earth Group sells items you consume every day, such as bottled water, coffee and tea. They donate 100% of net profit to the World Food Programme. Their theory of change is ambitious, but straightforward. As co-founder Kori Chilibeck says “If everybody who lives in a G7 country bought 20 of our products in a year, we would solve world hunger.”

Their products are easy to spot because they are the only products to bear the World Food Programme logo.

Breaking the Bubble

Matt Moreau grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Matt’s parents were medical professionals and took annual medical mission trips to Latin America. When Matt was around 20 years old, he accompanied his parents on the trip and, for the first time was confronted with extreme poverty. When Matt returned from the trip, he knew that he wanted to do more. He was working in a ski shop and his co-worker was Kori Chilibeck.

Kori, who was also from Edmonton had a similar experience while he was traveling in Nepal. Nepal is the third poorest country in the world. While Kori was on a Mount Everest base-camp expedition he met a man who was carrying a large basket. Though Kori was dressed in heavy down jacket, the old man had no shoes and no coat. After speaking to the man through his interpreter, Kori found that the man was 73 years old. The man was being paid 25 cents per day to carry this heavy load to base camp. After looking in the basket, Kori saw that the man was carrying nothing but cans of cola.

“At that point,” Kori told me, “I realized that either directly or indirectly some of the biggest companies in the world were making money, literally off the backs of some of the poorest people on the planet.” He thought “Why can’t I come up with a company that can compete with some of the biggest companies in the world, have a great product, have a great company, hire the best and the brightest, pay everyone fair wages, but at the end of the day, give the money back to the people who needed it?”

How Do you Start to Feed and Educate 1 Million Children?

Kori and Matt started in 2005 by selling bottled water out of the back of a van. Because Kori was a student, they wanted to sell on the campus, but an exclusive contract with a major bottling company prevented them from doing so. So, they set up a hand-made stand on a busy street and sold the water.

Feed and educate children with Matt Moreau and Kori Chilibeck, Earth Group

Matt Moreau and Kori Chilibeck work with the World Food Programme

To move into their first store, they convinced a store owner to stock their bottled water. With that first store placement, Matt and Kori made an important decision. They called the press to let them know about their new product in the store. Several major media outlets picked up their story. Soon, they were in a handful of other stores. Then they were in 10 stores. And then more. Their story of feeding the hungry became an important differentiator for their brand.

It Wasn’t Always Easy

Around 2009, The Earth Group moved into the United States This was at the beginning of a major recession. While The Earth Group’s growth was healthy, they ran into several business challenges. First their east-coast bottler went bankrupt. Then their west-coast bottler also went bankrupt. The warehouse that was storing their products sold their water for cash and went bankrupt. This series of catastrophes left The Earth Group holding $750 of debt, with no products to sell. To make matters worse, in Canada their manufacturer had a problem that caused Kori and Matt to recall their products and to return them to the manufacturer. That manufacturer also went bankrupt.

Kori and Matt decided to ride out the storm. They laid-off their staff and moved out of their office. They each took second jobs. They made a list of their challenges and started taking them on one at a time. They rented a van and hit the road to see their customers. They didn’t have money for a hotel, so they would sleep in the van. They would buy an inexpensive meal at Ikea. They would brush their teeth and check their email at a Starbucks. But little by little, they recovered from their businesses challenges. Customers started coming back and re-engaging. The company started to gain traction.

In 2014, they sold enough products to provide 100,000 meals through the World Food Programme. In 2015, they provided 250,000 meals. In 2016 they reached the 400,000 meal mark. The goal for 2017 is to provide 1 million meals.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Matt Moreau and Kori Chilibeck

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We provide food, water and education.’ Matt Moreau, @TheEarthGroup”]

“Kori put up with my phone calls for a few months as I was begging him for a job.” Matt Moreau

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I had an old Chevy van with no heat and very little breaking ability.’ Kori Chilibeck, @TheEarthGroup”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘It becomes all-consuming very quickly.’ Kori Chilibeck, @TheEarthGroup”]

“We’ve had four of the best years the company has ever had.” Kori Chilibeck

“Consumers are looking for more than a product. They want a product with a story.” Kori Chilibeck

“You’re just trying to make enough money to pay the cell phone bill.” Matt Moreau

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We realized we had lost a little bit of our storytelling.’ Matt Moreau, @TheEarthGroup”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Matt and I started have some fun again.” Kori Chilibeck, @TheEarthGroup”]

‘This is something that can change the world, and you can be part of that story.’ Matt Moreau

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

More Stories of Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger

In 2017, we’re emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In February, we are focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger. You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 1 here, Sustainable Development Goal 2 here, or learn about the Sustainable Development Goals here.

152, Marion Atieno Moon, Wanda Organic | Food Security through Soil Health

Wanda Organic is a for-profit social enterprise that works with farmers to improve their productivity and profitability by improving their soil.

Food security through soil health, Marion Moon, Wanda Organic

Marion Atieno Moon, Wanda Organic

At the age of 28, Marion Atieno Moon quit her job. She wasn’t quite sure what she was going to do next, but she knew there had to be more to life than work and a paycheck. When she returned home to Kenya, she noticed a pattern. As she visited the villages of her childhood, she was expected to bring food. This was a sharp contrast when compared to her travel to other regions where strangers often offered food to her.

As she considered the causes of food insecurity, she realized that food production depends on a handful of factors such as climate, water, and soil. Soil has been called “the living epidermis of the planet.” It is the thin membrane upon which all life on earth depends. Marion saw the poor quality of soil as a business opportunity.

Challenges with Food Production in Kenya

Kenya is a microcosm of the challenges of food production globally. One report estimated that 1.3 million people in rural areas and between 3.5 to 4 million in urban areas are food insecure. The population is growing and becoming more affluent. The cities are encroaching on arable farm land. Climate change is changing soil temperatures and putting pressure on water supplies. And, more importantly, poor farm practices have led to decreased productivity.

Wanda Organic educates Kenyan farmers on the important role soil plays in productivity. They sell bioorganic fertilizers that restore soil health. They also help farmers access markets.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Marion Atieno Moon

“By focusing on maximizing or restoring soil health, we’re enabling farmers to produce more and better-quality food.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘A lot of the arable land is being taken over by urbanization.’ @missmoonke, @WandaOrganicKE”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I felt there must be more to life than working and making money.’ @missmoonke, @WandaOrganicKE“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I found a huge gap in soil fertility.’ @missmoonke, @WandaOrganicKE“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I learn a lot from the farmers I work with.’ @missmoonke, @WandaOrganicKE“]

“By using our products, farmers are able to increase their productivity by 30%.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We are able to reduce input costs by about 20%.’ @missmoonke, @WandaOrganicKE“]

“We are currently working with just over 4,000 smallholder farmers, and we have 11 big, corporate clients that we work with.”

“People don’t understand how serious and bad this is.”


“If you’ve killed your soil, you’ve got to fix it.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I felt I finally had a seat at the table.’ @missmoonke, @WandaOrganicKE“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I realized that I had grown so much.’ @missmoonke, @WandaOrganicKE“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I feel my instincts are so much better.’ @missmoonke, @WandaOrganicKE“]

“Resilience and persistence – don’t underestimate what those two can do for you.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Take soil very seriously.’ @missmoonke, @WandaOrganicKE“]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

More Stories of Sustainable Development Goal 2, No Poverty

In 2017, we’re emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In February, we are focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger. You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 1 here, Sustainable Development Goal 2 here, or learn about the Sustainable Development Goals here.

113, Yvette Ondachi, Ojay Greene | Connecting Smallholder Farmers to Markets

Yvette Ondachi uses technology to connect smallholder farmers to markets.

Yvette Ondachi is a biochemist. She was a pharmaceutical product manager across several east African countries. “The problem I encountered was, most people couldn’t afford [medicine],” Yvette told me. Even after an experiment in which the company lowered the cost of medications by 75%, many people still could not get access to medicine.

“One of the things that propelled me,” Yvette explained, “was watching mothers, helpless as their children suffered from preventable diseases.” She knew she had to do something to make a difference. “Something within me became very restless. I said, ‘I have to do something about this.’”

Most of the people who were unable to buy medicine were smallholder farmers, those who farm on small plots of land and live off of their crops. Globally, there are about 500 million smallholder farmers. They produce 80% of the food consumed in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. In Kenya, around 42 million people work at least part time in agriculture.

Yvette’s company, Ojay Greene works with smallholder farmers to remove the barriers that limit them. Ojay Greene uses technology to give smallholder farmers access to markets, therefore increasing their earnings. Farmers who participate increase their income by five times over five years.

Quotes from Yvette Ondachi about Smallholder Farmers

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘What we do with smallholder farmers is, we link them to profitable markets.’ Yvette Ondachi, @OjayGreene “]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Smallholder farmers constitute between 50% and 70% of populations across Africa.’ Yvette Ondachi, @OjayGreene“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Poverty robs them of their potential.’ Yvette Ondachi, @OjayGreene #smallholder #farmers“]

“I asked the question, why is it that people who are involved in food production are poor?”

“Despite advances in mobile phones and other advances, very little had occurred in agriculture.”

“I looked at the skill I had in my hand, and the skill I had in my hand was marketing.”

“There was a lack of coordination between the supply and the demand.”

“It is uncomfortable to watch people wallow in poverty.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I was looking at the science of farming.’ Yvette Ondachi, @OjayGreene #agtech“]

“This text system came out as a result of a problem and a frustration.”

“In Sub-Saharan Africa, the continent is spending close to $40 billion importing food.”

“We’re taking them on a journey where they move from subsistence farming to building micro enterprises.”

“The end game of what we’re trying to achieve is to build strong and vibrant communities.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We’re looking at going into four countries by 2018.’ Yvette Ondachi, @OjayGreene #startup“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘When you have a goal, it’s important to stick to it.’ Yvette Ondachi, @OjayGreene #SocEnt“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘For every ten doors I knock, chances are that nine are shut.’ Yvette Ondachi, @OjayGreene #SocEnt“]

“Many people want the success of your journey and not the hardship of your journey.”

“I looked into the business aspect of the social enterprise and said this has to make business sense.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We have focused on churning up the revenue.’ Yvette Ondachi, @OjayGreene #SocEnt #ImpInv“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘Never forget why you did this in the first place.’ Yvette Ondachi, @OjayGreene #SocEnt“]

“Don’t do this for the money. Do this for the positive change.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

052, Kavita Shukla, The FRESHGLOW Co FreshPaper | Food Waste Has A Natural Solution

Food Waste cured by Kavita Shukla

Kavita Shukla, FRESHGLOW Co.

Food Waste is a massive issue. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, or UNEP, about one-third of all food produced worldwide gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems. When converted to calories, about 25% of all calories produced for consumption is never actually eaten. In the US alone, we waste more than 20 pounds of food per month per person. At the same time, millions go hungry.

Besides huger and wasted dollars, there are other implications from food waste. Water and energy are also needlessly used in wasted food. Agriculture is the largest user of water globally, accounting for 70% of total water use. Globally food production and distribution account for about 30% of total energy consumption. Food waste is also a producer of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

The story of food waste is massive with deep implications for everyone on the planet. If we want to find a solution to this global grand challenge, who better to do that than a 12-year-old girl? Meet Kavita Shukla. Well, she’s not 12 anymore, but that’s where her story begins.

When 12-year-old Kavita was visiting her grandmother in India, she mindlessly drank a cup full of tap water. Worried that she would become ill, she told her grandmother who quickly whipped up a concoction of spices. When Kavita felt no ill effects, she immediately became fascinated with the possibilities. Could certain spices inhibit bacterial and fungal growth?

Once she returned to America, she started experimenting in her parent’s garage. She was aware that over a billion people worldwide lack refrigeration or other means to keep food fresh. She wanted to develop a low-cost solution to food waste. Through her experimentation, she came up with a botanical extract that prevented food spoilage. By the time she was 17 she held a patent for “impregnated material for the preservation of perishable substances.” From that, The FRESHGLOW Co FreshPaper was born.

At first, Kavita was sure that she was going to form a non-profit to help preserve food in developing countries. But she struggled for more than a decade to get the idea off of the ground. Finally, in frustration and a bit of desperation, Kavita took her The FRESHGLOW Co FreshPaper to a local Farmer’s Market where she offered the paper to the local farmers. While explaining the product to some of the farmers, customers started asking if they could buy the paper. Kavita came back the next week and set up a booth for consumers. With a $200 investment, she was quickly sold out. She came back the next week with the same results. Soon word began to spread about Fenugreen FreshPaper.

Today FreshPaper is available in over 35 countries. They are in Whole Foods, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Ace Hardware and a host of independent coops. They also work with large-scale food producers and smaller food banks.

With the organic growth (pun intended) of The FRESHGLOW Co FreshPaper, they have been able to fund their growth with profit from consumers.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Kavita Shukla:

Even though we grow enough food to feed the planet, over 800 million people still go hungry. Click To Tweet “People kept coming back week after week and telling us how these sheets were making it possible for them to eat more fresh, healthy produce.” @KavitaFresh of @freshglowco Click To Tweet “One thing we’re proud of is the times we were able to say no to opportunities that just seemed so incredible or to say not yet.” @KavitaFresh of @freshglowco Click To Tweet “I look back to those days when I wanted to start a nonprofit and I think about how small I was thinking.” @KavitaFresh of @freshglowco Click To Tweet “The scale at which we can now do this, because of the tremendous consumer success we’ve had, is much bigger than I ever anticipated.” @KavitaFresh of @freshglowco Click To Tweet

“Our consumers are our investors.” @KavitaFresh of @freshglowco

“Take one, small, simple step.” @KavitaFresh of @freshglowco

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

052, Kavita Shukla, The FRESHGLOW Co FreshPaper | Food Waste Has A Natural Solution