This will mark the 8th edition of our 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 seven years I’ve had the great pleasure of speaking with over 600 social entrepreneurs around the world while running Causeartist. It has been a tremendous journey and absolute pleasure to watch many of these startups grow into companies and scale without losing their focus on impact.
Of course, these are not all the amazing people around the world doing spectacular things in their respective fields. These particular social entrepreneurs are just the ones that stood out to me over the past year.
Ruben Harris – Career Karma
Over the past couple of years, Ruben has worked with academics, organizers, politicians, and union leaders at Hustle, Honor and AltSchool focused on improving their personalized outreach, healthcare and education.
Ruben began his technology career working in Partnerships and Sales after writing a viral blog post called Breaking Into Startups about how he moved to San Francisco without a job and landed a position 3 weeks later.
After receiving thousands of e-mails asking how to break into tech, Ruben Co-Founded the Breaking Into Startups Podcast to demystify the process. The podcast resulting in a social media reach of ~3 million people, 200,000+ downloads, 10,000+ website visits per month, over 100+ reviews on iTunes, a Facebook Community of 10,000+ people, and invitations to be a Contributor for TechCrunch and Black Enterprise.
Prior to working in tech Ruben worked as an Investment Banker focused on Food, Consumer, and Retail companies in Chicago and Atlanta. As a member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, he recruited others to focus on issues related to food security, climate change, and agriculture.
Career Karma is a member of Y Combinator’s 2019 class and since then has been helping people that want to become software engineers by matching them with the right coding bootcamp and supporting them throughout their careers. Hundreds of millions of people will need to change jobs in the coming years. Career Karma gives them a placement quiz and gets them accepted at coding bootcamps and other training programs. With income-sharing agreements growing in popularity, plenty of job skill providers will be willing to pay to enroll the highest potential students.
Another epic initiative by Ruben and his team is their current Reskill America campaign. Covid – 19 has left millions of Americans without jobs over the last twelve months — disproportionately impacting low income communities, women, and people of color.
The company is partnering with Diversity & Inclusion leaders and organizations to leverage the platform towards raising over $500,000 and giving away thousands of laptops to the communities impacted by Covid-19.
Read more about Career Karma’s recent $10 million dollar raise.
Robert Luo – Mi Terro
Robert Luo is the founder of Mi Terro, a biotech company that creates protein fiber from milk waste. It has the potential to revolutionize two of the largest industries in the world.
Robert first came face to face with the massive issue of dairy waste during a visit to his uncle’s dairy farm in China, where he discovered buckets and buckets of spoiled milk.
He founded Mi Terro, a biotechnology company that reengineers leftover milk into sustainable fibers that can replace plastic in the fashion, medical and packaging industries.
Mi Terro rescues excess milk from dairy farm partners, skims it to remove fats before dewatering it to turn the liquid into powdered milk. It is then dissolved once again and purified to remove the bacteria, or the so-called ‘bad’ casein, from expired or spoiled milk. Casein makes up 80% of milk protein.
Luo considers costs and material performance as the two key challenges for sustainable clothing brands.
Raw materials touted as more sustainable, such as bamboo or Tencel, are still more expensive to produce compared to petroleum-based fibers or cotton. In addition, production oil-based or petrochemical textiles are sweat-absorbent, long-lasting, and have a stretchiness that eco-friendly fabrics often don’t.
The responsible start-up claims to have addressed these issues by producing a fiber that’s moisture-wicking, durable, and cheaper to produce compared to organic cotton.
Tiila Abbitt – Aether Beauty
Tiila Abbitt, founder of Āether Beauty is disrupting the $500 billion beauty industry through clean cosmetics and sustainable packaging.
Tiila Abbitt is a passionate, highly creative product development professional with 11+ years’ experience – including the international prestige beauty industry. Tiila has a BFA in sculpture and an MFA in fashion design. She worked in the fashion industry for over 5 years before transitioning to beauty. She is highly passionate for the sustainable beauty product realm. Tiila spent 7 years at Sephora in charge of product development for makeup collaborations and accessories. Her obsession with sustainability lead her to become the lead R+D for sustainable materials while also being on the sustainability leadership council for the retailer.
Being a global brand, Tiila quickly learned that in the USA, there are only 11 banned chemicals in color cosmetics while in the European Union, there are over 1300. Because of this, she learned how to formulate color cosmetics with a very large chemical ban list and how to substitute for cleaner alternatives. Tiila has had a long tenure passion for the organic product realm and has been a vegetarian for over 24 years.
Always bringing natural, organic alternatives into her everyday life she started to look at natural makeup formulation and found that none of the offerings could truly compete with those of conventional beauty companies. The space lacked choice of color and trend, as well as truly sustainable packaging.
Plastic makeup componentry is a huge source of pollution globally and Tiila wanted to create a brand that was ethically-sustainable, beyond the formulation, but in everything that Āether Beauty creates.
Topaz Smith – EN-NOBLE
EN-NOBLE is the brainchild of Topaz Smith. Topaz has created an extensive network of local travel experts during her global travels to Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, South America, The Caribbean, and Latin America. She has a background in international tourism, having began her career in a 5-star hotel with 2 Michelin stars in Positano, on Italy’s Amalfi coast.
She surveyed eco-tourism businesses in Brazil, in the Portuguese language about sustainable business practices. Exploring more of community-based tourism and how locals dictated how tourism would affect their lives, creating boundaries for the industry. She attended an international middle and high school, studying with students from Italy, Japan, Serbia, South Korea and China, where she developed cross-cultural communication skills helping her bridge the gaps between various identities.
Each year her school traveled to a different country, learning its languages, cultural norms, religions, history, and literature. She traveled to Wales, Portugal, Spain, and South Africa, and studied Japanese, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish. Her travels enriched her humility and ability to see from various lenses, forging a deep love for humanity. She took this love to her work in the United States Peace Corps and the United Nations, to her efforts in Ethiopia, working for a pastoralist non-profit organization, and throughout her experiences in 29 countries on 4 continents.
Using an international network of independent travel suppliers, EN-NOBLE offers customers the opportunity to experience local cultures, safe in the knowledge that their money is also strengthening those communities: the company pledges 1% of its revenue will be be reinvested with local partners.
Quinn Fitzgerald & Sara Dickhaus de Zarraga – Flare
Founded in 2016, Flare was built by two Harvard Business School graduates that are survivors of sexual assault. Flare makes beautifully designed, modern safety jewelry that empowers wearers to get out of uncomfortable situations at the push of a button. Each piece of jewelry has a hidden button that triggers text messages and GPS tracking to friends, a pre-recorded call to your phone, or even connecting with the police.Made with love in the USA, every aspect of Flare was designed with the wearer in mind.
Currently, Flare offers light-weight bracelets made with precious metals that come in multiple styles including matte, gloss, and satin finishes; debossed; and beaded. A truly impactful and innovative product, Flare was recently awarded a coveted spot on TIME’s Best Inventions of 2020. The Flare app is available for download for iOS on the Apple App Store and will soon be available for Android on the Google Play Store.
Quinn Fitzgerald is an entrepreneur, advocate and co-founder of Flare. Founded in 2016, the company was created from a passion for innovation, breaking down stereotypes and her personal experience with assault. She attended the College of the Holy Cross, where her passions led her to be the first person to design her own major in Conflict Resolution. Quinn later attended Harvard Business School, where she met co-founder, Sara Dickhaus de Zarraga. She previously served as the Assistant Director of the White House Business Council during the Obama administration. She currently resides in Boston.
Sara Dickhaus de Zarraga
Pursuing a passion for women’s rights, adventure, and safety, Sara Dickhaus de Zarraga co-founded Flare in 2016. Sara is a solo traveler and paragliding pilot who loves the feeling of freedom she gets from visiting the far corners of the world. Through her travels and work at the World Bank, she has seen the impact that safety has had on women’s quality of life all around the globe. Sara is a champion for women’s empowerment. She attended Wellesley College, where in a powerful community of strong women, she found herself becoming a trusted confidant to her friends and classmates on how to navigate sex and relationships.
Her passion is to help women everywhere live the lives that they want free of threats of violence or harassment – where women can explore the world around them, pursue their interests, and their sexuality safely. While attending Harvard Business School, she met Flare co-founder, Quinn Fitzgerald, and they immediately bonded over their own experiences with sexual assault which led to the creation of the business today. She currently resides in Boston.
Brendan Brazier & Mark McTavish – Pulp Culture
Beverage Industry Veteran Mark McTavish (CEO & Co-Founder) and plant-based performance mogul Brendan Brazier (Co-Founder) combined their areas of expertise to create the healthiest alcohol on the planet.
These two fitness-minded foodies turned social entrepreneurs, set out to create an alcoholic beverage that uses 100% raw, fresh juice that naturally ferments over three months (thank you, mother nature). Called “wild fermentation,” the result is a zero-additive, zero-sugar, bone-dry beverage with 6 billion naturally-occurring probiotics, B vitamins, and 4.9% ABV. The final touch is blending in fermented, nutrient-dense super fruits and performance-boostings botanical adaptogens
Brendan is the formulator and cofounder of Vega, bestselling author of the Thrive book series, creator and host of the Thrive Forward web series, and editor in chief of Thrive magazine. He’s also a former professional Ironman triathlete and a two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion. Brendan is regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on plant-based performance nutrition, and therefore works with several NHL, NFL, MLB, UFC, and Olympic athletes. Brendan now invests in and works with socially responsible food & tech companies whose mandate is to fix our food system and reduce the environmental strain of food production.
Mark was raised in the apple growing region of southwest Ontario, he began his career in the craft beverage industry at the age of 19. Soon after earning his Bachelor of Commerce at Canada’s top beverage management school, Mark established his foothold in the marketplace by opening one of the first craft bars in Canada in 2003.
After helping to pioneer the craft beer industry in Canada, Mark followed his other passion and built a successful career in the commercial fitness business. With a focus on product design and brand development, Mark spent nearly a decade working with fitness professionals across North America. Mark’s career path came full circle when he realized his dream to craft the healthiest alcoholic beverages on the planet; a convergence of two industries that had previously seemed to be an impossible pairing.
Dinesh Tadpalli – incrEDIBLE
Dinesh is the founder of incrEDIBLE, the first company to mass-produce edible cutlery and help alleviate waste from 100 million plastic utensils used every day in America. He is an inspiring impact based entrepreneur, hiker, engineer and angel investor. Crazy enough to sell his home for the sake of the planet and startup.
Plastic cutlery takes 1000 years to decompose – compostable products take equally as long if thrown in the trash. This makes edible spoons the most ECO-Friendly option for your special occasion.
Alexandre Koiransky – FAIR
Alexandre is the founder of FAIR, a spirit brand on a mission to support farmers in developing economies for the last decade. When you buy Fairtrade certified spirits, Alexandre and his team make sure that workers who grow the crops are paid a fair price. The belief is that we can leverage capitalism in rich countries to support farming communities in places like Bolivia, Uzbekistan, Malawi, Paraguay, Belize, Salvador, and other countries around the world to create sustainable business eco-systems.
Fairtrade standards promote direct and meaningful impact within key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) areas: no poverty, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, decent work conditions and economic growth and responsible consumption and production.
FAIR is also on a journey to use no plastic (at all) by the end of 2022.
Shireen Jaffer – Edvo
Shireen Jaffer is a second-time founder, Forbes 30 under 30, and CEO of Edvo, a venture-backed startup in Los Angeles that empowers people with the tools to think better and live better. She has helped over 50,000 people in their careers over the last 10 years, from recent grads to executives, and is passionate about helping people build meaningful lives. She has also worked with hundreds of companies, from Fortune 500s to early stage startups, advising them on recruiting and hiring practices. Shireen is an active angel investor, people advisor at PIF.vc, and host of the Edvolution Podcast.
Edvo exists to empower people to think for themselves and live better lives. They provide the tools for a life full of meaningful learning, critical thinking, and better results. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, then join us and explore a like-minded community of people on the same journey!
Maya Mutalik – Hope Sews
Maya Mutalik, 21 years old, studies social entrepreneurship at Babson College and is disrupting the fashion industry with her social venture, Hope Sews. Hope Sews is an impact-driven fashion brand that creates contemporary clothing made from artisanal fabrics from around the world and provides women entrepreneurs in developing communities with the resources they need to grow their businesses.
By using stunning traditional fabrics in contemporary silhouettes, Hope Sews brings vibrant fashion to a global audience and celebrates cultures that are too often misrepresented.
The company’s impact work is currently focused in the Volta Region of Ghana, where they have strategically partnered with West African women’s groups and a fin-tech solutions company (Pan-African Savings and Loans) to deliver microfinance loans, training, and community support to low-income seamstresses. Through supporting women entrepreneurs to effectively scale their businesses, Hope Sews strives to create a ripple effect transforming the lives of families and communities on a large scale.
The impact doesn’t stop there, Maya and her team have spent the past 2 years building a fashion supply chain centered around ethical production and reduced environmental impact. The team is launching a program this spring 2021 to educate young consumers on sustainable consumption, mistreatment of garment workers, and the role of businesses in creating an equitable world.
Garik Himebaugh – Eco-Stylist
Eco-Stylist is an online marketplace for eco-conscious and ethically made men’s clothing. Founded to answer one simple question: “can sustainable be dapper?” — Eco-Stylist finds you clothes that look as good as the values they represent.
Who wants to wear clothes made with child labor and toxic chemicals? Not you. Not us. From organic cotton oxfords to zero waste hats and sunglasses made from recycled plastic bottles, everything at Eco-Stylist is eco-friendly, socially responsible, and ethically sourced.
At Eco-Stylist all ethical and sustainable brands are first researched with Remake’s sustainable brand criteria. This framework looks at the brand’s impact on both people and the environment. Through this framework the company thoroughly researches all of the brands on the platform, measuring the brand’s environmental and social impact. Finding sustainably and ethically made clothes can be hard work, Eco-Stylist makes it easy!
Laura Alexander and Liza Moiseeva – Brightly
Laura Alexander and Liza Moiseeva are the co-founders of Brightly with a mission to build a billion dollar conscious consumer platform.
The Brightly platform focuses on brand + product recommendations, actionable + research content, and authentic community connections to empower people to make a difference for the planet.
Laura co-founded Brightly after leading social impact search initiatives for Google, scaling Amazon.com’s fashion business, igniting Sephora’s Beauty Insider Community, and creating products for Adobe. She is a technical and design-focused leader with experience managing teams of all sizes and disciplines, from engineers to marketers. Along with Liza, Laura co-hosts the Good Together Podcast, an arm of the Brightly.eco platform.
Liza’s personal passion for helping ethical businesses grow led her to found Scaling Good, an online community and consulting service for entrepreneurs looking to get an edge on their marketing and sales. Liza is also a co-host of the Good Together podcast, a resource for everyone looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle. The podcast was featured by Apple as their number #1 pick for conscious consumers and ended at the top 150 podcasts in the US after just ten episodes. Previously, Liza was a CMO at GlobeIn, the leading social enterprise subscription box company, which she helped scale from $0 to $12mln.
Abdullah Choudhry is a co-founder of Arbor, an award winning platform that brings conscious information to consumers at the forefront of purchasing. Arbor helps users patronize companies that align with their values. You simply pick what you care about the most; like human rights, corporate diversity, or the environment(and several more options). Prior to making a purchase, Arbor will alert you about the values of the corporation you are buying from in an effort to inform you where your hard earned money is going. If a company does not align with your values, Arbor provides you better alternative options and makes finding credible information seamless and easy.
David Simnick – Soapbox
David Simnick is the CEO and co-founder of Soapbox, a company whose mission is empower customers with the ability to change the world through everyday, quality purchases. SoapBox products are currently shelved in tens of thousands of stores across the United States and beyond.
As an Eagle Scout, Dave’s dream was to create for-profit companies with a social mission at their core. Since then, he has worked as either an intern or consultant to USAID, the U.S. Army, Michelle Rhee, the U.S. Senate, and was a Teach for America educator in Northern Philadelphia.
For every product sold, the company gives back through bar soaps, health, and hygiene initiatives in communities both domestically and around the globe. Track your impact with your Hope Code at soapboxsoaps.com/hope.
Soapbox products reach the everyday consumer with the mission to change the world through quality purchases. All products are all made in the USA, with 100% recyclable packaging, and the products are sold in stores like Target, Marcs, Meijer, Walgreens, Rite Aid and thousands of other retailers across the nation.
Soapbox won NEXTY Editors’ “Choice Award” for Beauty and Natural Living in 2014, “Best Body Wash of the Year” at the 2014 Beauty & Body Awards by Delicious Living, Delicious Living Bathroom Staple 2015, and the “Sherbrooke Capital Entrepreneurship Award” in recognition of Excellence in Innovation. Soapbox’s co-founder was a finalist in 2015 for Entrepreneur of the Year and the company made the list of Most Entrepreneurial Companies, both sponsored by Entrepreneur Magazine. Lastly, the company is also a Game Changers 500 member and certified BCorp.
Julia Pennington and Allison Lange – Hera The Dog Vodka
After 17+ years in animal rescue, including running A Dog’s Life Rescue in Los Angeles, Julia and Allison have experienced firsthand the struggle of raising funds while also being out in the field rescuing animals most days and nights. Over the years these two inspiring women have witnessed several other rescue organizations struggle as well with this balancing act.
The two went on a mission to figure out a more sustainable way to raise funds for animals in need and to help these driven, boots on the ground rescue organizations. After a while the two decided to look at Julia’s family distillery in Nashville, TN called Pennington Distilling Co. Julia went to speak to her brother about their goals and the idea to marry vodka and animal rescue was born.
Completely energized they got busy right away, and after two years of research and development, design, planning and perfecting the recipe, the first batch of Hera The Dog Vodka was produced in October 2018.
When Julia Pennington and Allison Lange formed the benefit corporation, Animal Spirits, they also created the Animal Spirits Foundation as a separate non-profit entity. A percentage of the funds raised through the sale of Animal Spirits’ products will be donated to the Animal Spirits Foundation to help support rescue groups, sanctuaries and individuals needing help with their four-legged family member through financial grants.
Since the launch in the Southern California area, ASF is currently helping communities in that area by funding free spay/neuter days and donating to local animal rescues’ spay/neuter programs. They will also be providing grants for emergency vet care for rescue groups and individual animal care-takers.
Crafted from 100% Organic Wheat Non-GMO Distilled 7 times Slow-filtered using gravity through Walnut Husk Carbon Distilled and bottled in a Family-Owned and operated distillery.
Spencer Arnold and Tim Hollinger – Bathing Culture
Bathing Culture is designed for the adventurous, the design-driven, and the sustainably-minded. Founded by childhood friends Tim Hollinger and Spencer Arnold, the duo was searching for a non-toxic body wash that could hold up to their active & dirty lifestyles – surfing, climbing, and mountain biking from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands.
They found that run-of-the-mill body washes just couldn’t keep up. Existing products typically stripped skin of moisture, were full of toxic synthetics, didn’t deliver an effective clean, or were housed in ecologically harmful and aesthetically uninspiring packaging. Enter Bathing Culture: an homage to the joyful act of bathing and its centuries-old influence uniting cultures around the globe and across generations. Through Bathing Culture, Tim and Spencer hope to motivate customers to take part in this age-old tradition, bathing not only in the literal sense, but also bathing in all that the world has to offer, inspiring peace, community, health and happiness.
Featuring everything your bathing ritual needs, the collection is highlighted by its hero product, the Mind and Body Wash: an organic, biodegradable, all-purpose & concentrated soap that makes you feel like you’re jumping into a cold river on a hot day and smells like the redwood forest canopies at dawn.
Better yet? While it was an admittedly expensive investment for a young brand (and a choice that sometimes results in imperfect, smoky bottles), Spencer and Tim have pledged to use #NoNewPlastic – from their packaging to shipping materials. They’re one of the few companies to use bottles made from 100% pre-existing recycled material, sourced locally in CA. Featuring purely plants and minerals, with no toxins, sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrances, or dyes, Bathing Culture is truly Radical. Self. Care.
Adila Coker – The Good Tee & Source My Garment
Adila Cokar is the visionary behind Source My Garment, the essential book written on how to responsibly offshore manufacturing, and a media-acclaimed, award-winning serial entrepreneur. She has over a decade of experience working closely with offshore factories, as well as partnering with and building social businesses within the fashion industry. Her expertise includes sustainable product development, offshore manufacturing processes, end-to-end management, and business strategy. She has been featured in Apparel Magazine, Sourcing Journal, The Epoch Times, Just-Style.com, and more.
Written to help her clients fully understand the process of getting from idea to manufacture, executive manufacturing consultant, Adila wrote the ultimate guide to kickstart your production. She draws on her extensive experience to show you how to plan effectively, lower your costs, avoid potential manufacturing problems, prepare for production, design sustainably and more.
Adila is also founder of The Good Tee, which mission is to make it easier for any size brand to sell responsibly made products. The Good Tee is a collections of sustainable basics which are a blank canvas for brands to print on. Fashion startups can rip out our back neck label and replace it with their own. Established brands can integrate their values of being responsible by purchasing The Good Tee for uniforms or promotional use. We customize any product from start to finish.
The Good Tee’s vision was originally conceived in 2008, when founder Adila Cokar, a responsible apparel manufacturing consultant, was on a sourcing trip in India. She read an article about the ongoing issue of the growing suicide rates among India’s farmers. “Since 1995, more than 270k cotton farmers in India alone have committed suicide. ” –The Guardian. With high levels of illiteracy and limited land holdings, many cotton farmers live in poverty; their sparse livelihoods dependent on middle-men or ‘ginners’ who often buy their cotton at prices well below the cost of production. After learning this, there was no turning back. The Good Tee was born.
“Fast fashion” is known to hurt the planet and the people that produce our goods. That’s why The Good Tee champions responsible manufacturing: slower production schedules, ethical working conditions, and fair deals for all.
After receiving Fairtrade certification, Adila made it her mission to make it easier for consumers and businesses to source the supply chain that supports responsibly manufactured apparel.
Kathy Hannun – Dandelion Energy
Kathy Hannun is the Cofounder and President of Dandelion Energy, the largest residential geothermal company in the United States. Dandelion transitions homeowners from fossil-fueled to geothermal heating and cooling using their custom geothermal drilling suite and Dandelion Air heat pump. Before founding Dandelion, Hannun was a Rapid Evaluator at X, Alphabet’s innovation lab, where she focused on finding “Moonshots,” i.e business opportunities to harness technology for large-scale positive impact.
She initiated Dandelion as an X project and then launched it into an independent startup company in May 2017. Dandelion has since raised $35 million in funding from top venture capitalists, set a new standard for geothermal quality and cost-effectiveness, and empowered homeowners to avoid over 100 million pounds of carbon emissions and counting.
Dandelion Energy is the nation’s leading home geothermal company offering heating and cooling solutions for the 21st century. Dandelion’s state of the art heat pump system combines wifi enabled monitoring and secure cloud storage creating a smarter, more responsive, and more innovative approach than any other heating/cooling system on the market. Traditionally, installing a conventional geothermal system would cost homeowners over $50,000, but Dandelion’s engineers have driven these costs down to be between $18,000 to $25,000 with a no-money-down financing plan, so homeowners can install a geothermal system with no upfront cost while saving up to 50% on their heating and cooling bills each month.
Paul Shapiro – Better Meat Co.
Paul Shapiro is the CEO of The Better Meat Co. His company is creating the future of food sustainability through technology and cellular agriculture.
Paul Shapiro is the author of the national bestseller Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World (published by Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books in 2018). He’s also the CEO of The Better Meat Co., a four-time TEDx speaker, the host of the Business for Good Podcast, and a long-time leader in food sustainability.
Paul has been interviewed by hundreds of news outlets from CNN to StarTalk Radio with Neil deGrasse Tyson as an authority on food and agriculture sustainability. He has published hundreds of articles in publications ranging from daily newspapers like the Washington Post to pop-sci publications like Scientific American to magazines like FORTUNE to academic journals.
Dr. Lydiah Kemunto Bosire – 8B Education Investments
Dr. Lydiah Kemunto Bosire, a native Kenyan, holds a D. Phil in Politics from the University of Oxford, which she struggled to finance. In the years since, she has watched colleagues, friends, and family from the African continent turn down or forfeit opportunities to study at global universities because they could not secure sufficient financing.
She has seen African students, admitted to and attending colleges that would open doors into innovation clusters and leadership networks, cut short their studies and their ambitions, as necessary funding failed to materialize. For these reasons, 8B’s mission is personal.
Lydiah has a high-profile background in international affairs, including serving in the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization. Lydiah led the UN’s collaboration with the World Bank on the Global Concessional Finance Facility, an innovative financing window for refugee-hosting communities.
8B Education Investments draws from this experience of developing strategy and innovation with global implications. A scalable market-based solution investing in African human capital is necessary in a set of tools aiming to accelerate African prosperity and achieve shared prosperity.
Jonny Crowder – Cope Notes
As a suicide/abuse survivor, Johnny Crowder spent his formative years searching for resources to help him cope with his mental health conditions, ranging from OCD and bipolar disorder to schizophrenia. His firsthand experience with mental illness, university-level education in psychology, and contagious positivity combine to fashion a spirit of advocacy and compassion unlike any other.
Through both music and motivational speaking, Crowder’s testimony has impacted millions of lives across the globe by de-mystifying taboo psychological principles and sensitive topics with levity and wit. After nearly a decade of clinical treatment, volunteer peer counseling, and public advocacy, Crowder now relies on the strategies he shares through Cope Notes to live a happier, healthier life than ever before.
Cope Notes sends daily mental health support via text message to the scriber in order to help train their brain to combat negativity, stress, anxiety, anger, and doubt. All the texts are written by peer support advocates, so these are people with lived experience with hardship or trauma, illness, and loss.
Chami Akmeemana – Blockchain Learning Group and Convergence
Chami Akmeemana is the CEO of Blockchain Learning Group and Convergence. He is a Blockchain and AI Specialist. He pursued a Ph.D. in Bioceramic Engineering at Queen Mary, University of London, until deciding to forgo an academic career in favor of Law Enforcement. In 2002, he joined London’s Metropolitan Police.
His current company, Convergence, has successful deployed several blockchain projects in the developing world to connect individuals to simple human rights and create new businesses in areas never thought possible.
Chami and his team has deployed blockchain to help farmers in Mongolia deliver sustainable cashmere, helped individuals identify there land rights in India, and has been tapped by the United Nations to help collaborate around the use of blockchain to dig deeper into climate intelligence to support climate action.
Chami has had 4 successful exits over the last decade and is passionate about the intersection of technology, business and social good. His experience includes serving as Director of Regulatory and Government Affairs at ConsenSys Inc; Fintech Advisor to the Ontario Securities Commission; Managing Director, Fintech and Blockchain at the Global Risk Institute; and Regulatory Advisor to the Republic of Liberland.
Priya Prakash – HealthSetGo
Priya Prakash is the founder of HealthSetGo and on a mission bring health education to millions of citizens in India. Growing up in India, Priya Prakash’s family showed their love through food. Nightly dinners, family gatherings, and celebrations were filled with joy and of course food.
Unfortunately, most of the food was not of the healthy variety and eventually, she became overweight and was relentlessly bullied by her peers from the sixth grade until college. Friends and other kids and students called her fat, ugly, and made her feel like she wasn’t worth anything. Of course, this behavior beagn to take a huge toll on Priya’s mental health.
Prakash was inspired by both her mother and First Lady Michelle Obama to help end childhood obesity in schools. Priya eventually made the decision on her own; to change her lifestyle and improve her physical and mental health.
She is now the founder and CEO of HealthSetGo. and the recent winner of the $250,000 Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award.
Her organization integrates technology and health care to empower parents, schools, and governments to make data-driven decisions to improve the health and lives of children. HealthSetGo has impacted the lives of more than 200,000 children and parents in India across more than 77 cities.
India has the second highest number of obese children worldwide and is the cancer and diabetes capital of the world! Through Priya’s work, she hopes to positively impact one million people by 2023 and ten million by 2030.
Roberto Milk – NOVICA
NOVICA started with a dream to create a better world for artisans. Along the way, the team discovered something very important – as artisans around the world succeeded, there was also a visible and profound impact on the communities around them. Your purchases are that powerful. They directly and indirectly provide for education, help with health care, fund basic needs, support children, preserve disappearing arts, and of course, spread happiness around the world.
The marketplace features the works of more than 20,000 artisans for sale, improving the economic prospects of artists in some of the world’s most remote areas. Showcasing their products on NOVICA, offers artisans fair prices, no binding contracts and the freedom to make a success of their craft by building a sustainable business.
Through a successful microcredit partnership with Kiva, NOVICA also gives artisans access to no interest microcredit loans that help build their businesses, allowing them to purchase materials, supplies and even get assistance to support their growing businesses. Artisans through NOVICA, have already earned nearly $100 million in funds by selling on NOVICA.com. Roberto and his team are building a global infrastructure that will increase that number to $1 billion.
According to the United Nations Development Programme, artisan activity is the second-largest employer in the developing world behind agriculture. NOVICA has empowered global artisans through greater access to international customers, freedom to set their own prices, and the ability to focus on their craft, creating a visible and profound impact on the communities around them.
Ryan Shearman – Aether Diamonds
Ryan Shearman is a serial entrepreneur who has spent the past decade innovating across a range of consumer and B2B verticals. In addition to his role as an operator, he advises and invests in high growth tech startups. He has made it his life’s work to combat global climate change through the development and commercialization of environmentally advantaged manufacturing technologies.
In 2018, Ryan co-founded Aether, a public benefit corporation that extracts harmful CO2 from the atmosphere and transforms it into valuable raw materials and consumer products. They unveiled the world’s first and only carbon-negative diamonds made 100% from air in December 2020. The company aims to extract 100 million tonnes of CO2 from the air over the next ten years.
Lucy Ashman – Tierra & Lava
Belize-raised founder and botanical alchemist Lucy Ashman is inspired by her passion for a healthy environment as well as the natural beauty and extraordinary biodiversity of Central America. Ten years ago, she started making soap, shampoo and lotion for luxury boutique hotels. Lucy’s reputation for making beautiful, efficacious natural products quickly grew and spas began asking her to make scrubs and facial creams.
Lucy’s career in tourism specializing in out-of-the-ordinary experiences allowed her to develop relationships with many Guatemalan locals, who would teach her about their sacred traditional uses of local plants and minerals. Combining her certified nutrition education and peer-reviewed scientific studies with traditional mayan healing practices, she developed skincare formulas using only the purest form of ingredients (aka just whole plants and minerals). Tierra & Lava now offers over 70 natural products with no fillers and only natural preservatives.
Matt McPheely – Chapel
Matt is an entrepreneur and real estate developer with 15 years of real estate and private equity experience. He is on a mission to rethink community development through his expertise in real estate. Matt has developed, sold, and raised capital for more than $200M in real estate and operating business transactions. All experience has led to taking his understanding of finance, entrepreneurship, and real estate, and scale it on behalf of the vibrancy of our neighborhoods.
His focus now is on Chapel, a 43,000 ft office, event, and restaurant space in the heart of a mill village community in downtown Greenville, South Carolina—with the mission of changing the way real estate projects are financed, built, and operated, as a force for good in our neighborhoods.
Matt and his team believe that the smartest, most profitable way forward is to work alongside and with the community, to bake in the mentality of being great neighbors.
This will include job training, investment into local entrepreneurs, providing a safe space for kids, and offering our flex space as a resource for the neighborhood.
“This is not just the right thing to do, it’s a key differentiator for achieving sustainable success.”
Chad Hickey – Givsly
Chad Hickey is Founder and CEO of Givsly. Givsly is a for-purpose company built around the belief that as the world around us evolves, so should our options to create social impact. Givsly turns business meetings into opportunities to support your favorite nonprofits.
While business professionals juggle many day-to-day tasks, creating social impact should not be perceived as an additional burden. Instead, Givsly develops new ways of creating impact by thinking differently about how your current everyday tasks and resources can give back.
Givsly introduces a portfolio of ways for professionals to give back, while doing business. Partners can utilize meeting time to raise money for nonprofits through the Givsly platform or get out in community with clients through planned Givsly experiences. Whichever path you choose, Givsly strives to make social impact simple but impactful.
Ian Rosenberger – First Mile and Day Owl
Ian Rosenberger is the founder of several amazing companies dedicated to up-cycling plastic bottles to create sustainable jobs and sustainable products.
WORK places the poor into jobs in landfill communities. First Mile has redirected over 96 Million plastic bottles from landfills and the ocean and transformed them into consumer goods for global brands trying to find value in authenticity, transparency, and responsibility.
Day Owl is a direct-to-consumer brand that has created a backpack out of First Mile materials that the team feels will prepare everyone to take on the world. Ian works most in landfill community assessment, sourcing strategy, understanding how to translate impact into economic value, and leveraging impact in storytelling.
He has spoken about his work at SXSW, Harvard Business School, and the United Nations. He is a 2016 Barclay’s Unreasonable Impact Fellow and currently sits on the Ocean Conservancy’s Technical Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Plastic Waste. To date, he has directed nearly $10 Million to need-based communities with too much plastic and not enough jobs. He is a brand new dad and believes that ending poverty and the plastic crisis is all but certain by the time he and his wife Raashi have grandchildren.
Yasmin Grigaliunas – World’s Biggest Garage Sale
Yasmin Grigaliunas is the CEO and Co-founder of the World’s Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS), an entrepreneur of impact and a circular economy pioneer in Australia, driving this industry forward by innovating, collaborating, connecting and mobilising multiple stakeholders towards a shared vision, all while providing social good.
WBGS are activating the circular economy and resource recovery of dormant goods for good, powered by purpose to provide meaningful employment and pathways for disadvantaged youth.
Through an omnichannel resale retail presence, including events, pop ups and an online recommerce platform, Yasmin is a passionate advocate of the Sustainable Development Goals, delivering outcomes and outputs to support the Global Goals.
WBGS has partnered with Officeworks (one of Australia’s largest retailers) on a Resource Recovery project, diverting more than 20 tonnes of product from landfill in a recent pilot, resulting in Australia’s first first Circular Economy Precinct (in Brisbane, Queensland). Via our Precinct, we take dormant goods from the community and businesses and renew, repair and repurpose these underutilised or imperfect products, transforming waste into saleable goods.
Christian Shearer – Regen Network
Christian Shearer is CEO and co-founder of Regen Network, an ecological agreements platform working to acceleration the adoption of Regenerative Agriculture. He has been working in ecological agriculture for the past 15 years, with much of that time spent working with farmers in Southeast Asia.
As a co-founder of Terra Genesis International, he spent five years working with leading natural products brands, helping them understand how to invest in their existing supply systems to encourage them toward more regenerative practices.
Christian is pouring his life into Regen Network because the tools being built will have a profound influence on the acceleration of the adoption of regenerative agriculture around the world.
Regen Network is a platform serving to align economics with ecology to drive regenerative land management. Regen’s Registry allows land stewards to sell their ecosystem services to buyers around the world, functioning to reverse climate change through incentivized carbon removal.
Reese Fernandez-Ruiz – Rags2Riches
Reese Fernandez-Ruiz is the President and Founding Partner of Rags2Riches(R2R) and the 2013 Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year, and 2012 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.
Over the last 13 years, R2R has built a comprehensive end-to-end social enterprise at a scale that few purpose-driven brands have achieved. R2R’s focus is on community sourcing, community-based weaving, and sustainable market access. In addition to providing a sustainable livelihood for partner community artisans, R2R has also co-developed an artisan academy, a savings and micro-insurance program, and opportunities for full-time employment.
They’ve won accolades and have been celebrated in Vogue, Fast Company, CNN, and The Guardian, amongst many others.
Margaret Andriassian – Life Originelle
Living in Los Angeles, Margaret grew all to familiar with people experiencing homelessness and searched for many different ways to combat the issue. Her life experiences in the fashion field and e-commerce industry morphed with her love of care bags to create Life Originelle, a shopping platform where women can shop from beautiful small businesses, and support a cause, all in one transaction.
As an impact based shopping website, Life Originelle donates 10% of their proceeds from each order to their cause of the season. Every three months they uplift a new worthy cause to raise awareness and proceeds for. The cycle of love and giving back continues year round as each order comes with a Pay-it-Forward Life Originelle Care Bag, an original way to love your neighbor. The bag is filled with socks, a face mask, hygiene essentials, national hotline numbers to call on for help and a note that tells each receiver that they are loved, worthy, and their life has purpose.