This guest blog post is by Oliver Shuttlesworth.
This Is The Problem
$2. That’s what more than 2.45 billion people in our world live on.
Every. Single. Day.
There are more than 1.2 billion people that the UN considers to be starving.
862 million people, or one in five adults, cannot read or write their own name.
Current estimates show that there are as many as 115 million school-aged children that lack access to an education. Despite the fact that yearly tuition is as low $15USD in some countries, families cannot afford to send their children to school.
And so, in a world where poverty runs rampant, one of the single most valuable tools available to fight and eventually overcome crippling levels of poverty is out of reach for those that need it most.
These are the very real, very unfortunate circumstances of the world around us. But there is hope.
These Are Our Solutions
As current generations heed the rally cry to “act local and think global” and continue to seek out ways to incorporate charitable giving into their everyday purchases, social entrepreneurs have the unique opportunity to build companies that create substantial impact in areas of need.
It’s a task no social entrepreneur should take lightly.
ESPEROS, for example, was founded on a simple idea: to provide impoverished children in developing countries with access to an education. But the idea was nothing without validation. It wasn’t until we heard, learned, and saw firsthand that it was a very real problem in need of a new solution (a solution we were offering) that we began to develop our idea into a living, breathing company.
In a world full of “one for one” concepts that all too often miss the mark, despite the right intent, there are a growing number of social entrepreneurs making an incredible impact on the people they exist to serve. In the process, they are tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems.
Fortunately for Austinites, several of these social entrepreneurs call Austin home. And so, as our focus starts to shift toward the holiday season ahead of us, I’d ask that everyone please consider purchasing gifts that positively impact those less fortunate. Below, I’ve included several of my favorite companies in Austin that make great products and support even greater causes.
The Best And Brightest
Inca Boots offers handmade, authentic Peruvian-style boots and a new line of shoes incorporating Peruvian prints into its designs. Now in its fifth year of operation, Inca Boots sources all of its materials and manufactures all of its products in Peru. Working with artisans in Peru from start to finish on its products, Inca creates valuable living wage jobs and provides hospitable working conditions for all those it works with.
Raven + Lily has come a long way in a little less than two years. Fully re-located from Los Angeles to Austin earlier this year, the company works with marginalized women in Cambodia, Ethiopia, and India to manufacture upcycled jewelry, scarves, journals, and smaller gift items. Their products are all handmade, one of a kind, wonderfully made and provide work to marginalized women who would otherwise be jobless.
Nicole Marrett founded Radiant Cosmetics after a humanitarian trip to Thailand. Walking down Bangla Road in Phuket, Nicole was introduced to the widespread, underground world of human sex trafficking. She immediately became resolved to make a difference. Seeing a glaring need for a company that offered products “with a purpose” in the $170 billion cosmetic industry, Nicole founded Radiant Cosmetics to do just that.
In its second year of operation, the growing company offers a full line of well-made beauty products and donates 20% from every sale to fight human trafficking.
And last, ESPEROS. Launched in mid-July of this year, ESPEROS sells backpacks and tote bags and helps send a child in need to school for a year with every bag sold. The company has partnered with an incredible non-profit in Haiti and works exclusively with families living on less than $1 per day.
ESPEROS believes that education is one of the fundamental pillars of human dignity and empowerment and works to provide some of the poorest children in Haiti with the opportunity to attend school. ESPEROS pledges 50% of the profits from every purchase in an effort to stay true to its mission to send one child to school for a year with each bag sold.
Oliver Shuttlesworth is the Founder & CEO of ESPEROS. A native Texan, he enjoys traveling, experiencing new cultures, reading, and taste-testing all things pumpkin flavored. ESPEROS was featured on NBC’s Today Show less than four weeks after its launch and its products will start to appear on retail shelves across the country in 2013.