Archive for Social Entrepreneur

Sit On It, Detroit!

A majority of Detroit’s city population relies on the city bus system for transportation; however, most bus stops do not have benches. If you have to wait for a bus, it’s tiresome to stand. It’s even worse if it’s cold outside. The cold is very conducive with Michigan’s long winters.

Sit On It is a community supported social entrepreneurship organization. Sit On It was started by two millenial entrepreneurs names Kyle Bartell and Charles Molnar. Kyle and Charles solved Detroit’s bench-shortage by using reclaimed wood from homes that were deconstructed. Kyle and Charles take these bus stop benches a step further by converting the lower part of the bench into a book shelf. Now, citizens of Detroit can read while they wait for the bus!

In the future, Sit On It Detroit is hoping to continue providing benches for fellow Detroiters. They hope to set up benches throughout the city. The company recently moved into a new 10,000 square foot space. Kyle and Charles have expanded their business to building custom furniture pieces for restaurants.

Sit On It was originally funded by the micro-funding organization called Detroit SOUP. Check out my other blog about SOUP.

Stay warm, Detroit, and Sit On It!

soi1 soi3


SOUP is a group of Detroiters who raise money for Detroiters. SOUP is a micro-funding dinner. The model of SOUP originated in Chicago. SOUP allows ordinary people to come together around ideas and bowls of soup at a public dinner. SOUP meets in a loft, anyone can come and listen to aspiring creative individuals share their ideas for how they want to improve the community of Detroit. Each project gets to present before those attending the dinner. The project presentations range from art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurs, education, technology and more.

SOUP’s mission is “to promote community-based development through crowdfunding, creativity, collaboration, democracy, trust and fun.”

This great organization was founded by Amy Kaherl. Amy is the current director of Detroit SOUP. Amy grew up and attended college in Michigan. She studied theology and popular culture at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasedena, California.

SOUP actually funded the grant that helped start Veronika Scott’s social enterprise company called The Empowerment Plan. Read about The Empowerment Plan on one of my other blogs.

Stay warm, Detroit, and eat soup!

 s1 s2 s3

Set in Clay


Like so most small startups its beginnings were modest. It began in a small garage in Fall of 2009…Here a hugely successful social enterprise was born.

“With nothing more than an old stamp set, a box of clay, and a plan to support clean water projects in Africa, handmade creations emerged and MudLOVE was born.”

The MudLOVE team is made up of artists, makers, doers, thinkers…entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs with a skill and a passion to make the world a better place: “With ‘mud’ in our hands and love in our hearts, the chance to make a difference is our inspiration to create.”

MudLOVE partners with Water for Good through providing a week of clean water to someone in need for ever ML product purchased. Like many other developing countries, lack of clean water is a huge issue. The Central African Republic is no exception. MudLOVE aims to transform communities and save lives through providing access to safe and clean water.

MudLOVE also has a “Fundraiser Marketplace.” The company chooses initiatives to support and creates a campaign and a customized product to raise funds for that specific initiative.


 In addition to providing water, MudLOVE necklaces, bracelets and mugs were designed to be instruments of encouragement and inspiration among people. The goal is for the products to spark conversation. “On the right wrist, a simple word can take on powerful significance.”


MudLOVE craetes products that are aesthetically pleasing…appealing to the millennial generation through the design and the story and meaning they represent. Millennials are bound to make an impact, as they already have. We are drawn to buy products that make an impact on the world, and spark connections with others. MudLOVE products aim to do just that.

The story and mission of MudLOVE carries all the way into how they produce their product.

“Rethink, reuse, recycle: We are solution solvers. In the neverending search for improvement, we invent new tools that still require the careful guidance of human hands. As we strive to streamline production, our emphasis on quality goods remains strong. Every product goes through a careful screening process. If clay gets scrapped, we simply mix it into a new batch. There is always potential for the broken to be made new.”


Not Your Typical Lemonade Stand


Four. That’s how old Mikaila Ulmer was when her parents first encouraged her to enter into a children’s business competition. She put on her thinking cap and went to work playing with some ideas. During this brainstorming process two big things happened in 4 year old Mikaila’s life…She was stung by a bee twice and her Great Granny sent her family an old cookbook, including her special recipe for Flaxseed Lemonade. Although bees originally scared her after her experience she became fascinated with the creatures, learning about how they benefit the ecosystem. She wanted to do something to help honeybees. Out of this desire, Me & the Bees Lemonade was born (Originally “Bee Sweet Lemonade”). The recipe comes from Great Granny Helen’s cook book and is sweetened with local honey. She donates a percentage of the profits to local and international organizations that are fighting to save the honeybees. “Buy a bottle…Save a Bee.” Now 11 years old, Mikaila snagged a $60,000 deal on shark tank with Daymond John. Her refreshing and healthy beverage is flying off the shelves of Whole Foods Market and is available at a growing number of restaurants, food trailers and natural food deliver companies. She even leads workshops on how to save the honeybees.

At 11 years old Mikaila Ulmer is a social entrepreneur, bee ambassador educator and student.


Actress Turned Entrepreneur

lauren-conrad-1Lauren Conrad is a well-known actress and reality-TV show star however most people do not know that she has become a successful young entrepreneur, owning two clothing lines as well as a book franchise and two websites. She used her fame and publicity to help launch her first clothing line and demonstrate that she wasn’t just the next star to create a business on a whim, instead she was committed and passionate about where she wanted her business to go. In 2007, she launched her first clothing line, The Lauren Conrad Collection. Although it ended up being a dismal failure, she learned and grew through her mistakes and launched a second, successful clothing line in 2009, LC by Lauren Conrad, in conjunction with the retailer Kohls. Since then, she has launched another clothing company, Paper Crown, written eight books, and started two websites.


In 2013, Lauren and her friend Hannah Skvarla were inspired to start a non-profit named the Little Market. It is a company that empowers women artisans and provides a market for their products to be sold in order to provide for their families. Today, The Little Market partners with 26 artisans in 16 countries to carry their products and they hope to grow that number even more.


Lauren has found much success with her products and websites, however she is not stopping there. She said stated that she no interest in returning to television, instead she wants to continue on with her businesses and keep doing what she loves. Lauren Conrad is a millennial entrepreneur who gives a wonderful example of using fame and success to get where she wanted to be, entrepreneurial, and then taking her success from there and giving back to others with dreams just like hers.


Her personal website:

The Little Market website:


Better Life Bags

What started as a personal craft project grew to an Etsy store, to a Pinterest phenomenon, and then to a full-scale business- helping people all along the way.

Rebecca Smith made herself a diaper bag, posting the images on Facebook; she was very unaware of what an impact those images going public would have. She received many compliments suggesting and inspiring her to start an Etsy shop selling these bags. The shop is called Better Life Bags, in reference to 10% of profits being donated to people in third world countries helping them start their own businesses. The bags, in addition to being practical and cute, allow the customer to pick from a wide variety of fabrics and leathers letting one totally customize the accessory.


BLB allows you to chooses the leather and fabric colors to create a bag perfectly matching your style. [via]

When a well-known blogger, and then her  many followers, saw the brilliance of this customization and pinned one of her bags, orders flooded in. The number of orders far exceeded what Rachel’s one-woman operation could fill.  Faced with the decision to either quit the business or expand, she rejected the idea of moving production overseas reaching out instead to women in her neighborhood. Smith lives in a neighborhood swirling with diversity and filled with women who have “various barriers to employment,” whether they be cultural or religious. A neighbor from Yemen, Nadia, who is unable to leave her home to work, became Rachel’s first employee. As the business has grown, Rachel has been able to hire many other local women allowing them to provide simple necessities like food and furniture for their families.

These charming bags with cute, customizable colors & choice craftsmanship really live up to their name. Not only will they make your life better, they help Rachel Smith employee those in her community with barriers to employment.

All Natural Hair Product

Leanna Archer was only nine years old when neighbors and friends started asking what hair products she used, and where they could get some for themselves. She started packaging samples of her Haitian great-grandmother’s secret hair product recipes in Gerber jars and giving them out to friends until people began showing up at her door with money asking how much they could get with the money they had to offer.

Fast forward to age eleven, where Leanna was selling more than ever before and launched her initial brand, Leanna’s Hair. Her all-natural hair products, with no parabens, sulfates, or other harsh chemicals, started selling all across the country and expanded to world-wide. Surprisingly, one of her top buying countries is Singapore. A few years later she re-branded as Leanna’s Essentials, which has remained the brand’s name.

Leanna’s Haitian background influenced her greatly, and in 2008 she visited the country for the first time. After seeing the poverty and pain, she started the Leanna Archer Education Foundation, which supported over 200 Haitian children with their education and basic needs. She became the youngest person to ever ring the NASDAQ opening bell on Wall Street at age 13, and her foundation was endorsed by Janet Jackson. Leanna has also been featured on numerous major media outlets, including Forbes, CNN, Time, ABC, and NBC to name just a few.

When she’s not selling her products, Leanna is travelling the country as a motivational speaker and guest lecturer at universities. Her hope is to become a politician, and use her influence to help impact the lives of even more people. What started as a secret recipe from her great-grandmother grew to become a multi-faceted empire. While no longer alive, her great-grandmother saw much of Leanna’s success, and was proud to the very end. Leanna found a need in natural hair care, and that opportunity has become a chance to change the world.

Gardens for Health International

First of all, I cannot even express how happy this organization makes me. Like, I can’t even.

Now that we’ve established my excitement, I can tell you about the actual organization. Julie Carney co-founded Gardens for Health in 2007 with her friend Emma Clippinger. The original idea was to work with people with HIV/AIDS in Rwanda to help them grow their own food for consumption and sale. However, after two years of living and working toward this goal in Rwanda, Julie realized that they were working on the wrong problem. Malnutrition was the bigger issue in Rwanda. So Gardens for Health developed accordingly. This is a fantastic example of reframing the problem and pivoting in your idea to address the problem more effectively and be more successful in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Now Gardens for Health fights malnutrition in Rwanda by “partnering with local health centers to integrate agricultural support and comprehensive health education into the clinical treatment of malnutrition.” They work to include agriculture training for local families in the usual assistance provided by public health centers.

“Our agriculture team works to blend international innovations in sustainable agriculture with time-tested Rwandan farming practices in order to help every family with whom we work to make the most of their existing resources.

Through our work, we are changing the way that malnutrition is treated by moving away from short-term handouts and towards equipping families with the knowledge and resources to grow their own nutritious food and improve their health. We envision a future in which the key to lasting food and nutrient security for vulnerable families lies in their own backyards.”

Again, I LOVE the mission of this organization!!! This is innovation the world needs! Find out more about Gardens for Health at their website.


New Seed for Guatemala

Curt Bowen grew up on a small organic farm in Idaho, so he knows a thing or two about agriculture and social engagement. His first service experience in Central America was building a house for a widowed family in Nicaragua as a teenager. During this trip he realized that it was impossible to help everyone in the same way, and that the root causes of poverty need to be examined rather than simply attempting to alleviate its symptoms.

So in 2006 he started his first project in Latin America with the goal of educating locals on biodiesel technology. While he was able to open three research and training centers, Curt didn’t think he was making a big enough impact. Knowing that the majority of the world’s poor are farmers, Curt decided to use his agricultural  background to help the people of Guatemala.

Once he got to Guatemala, Curt and his partner Trinidad Recinos, who he had met during his biodiesel project, drove through the entire country to plant and harvest alongside local farmers in order to fully understand the problems and issues facing Guatemalan farmers. Then in 2010 Curt and Trinidad co-founded Semilla Nueva (New Seed) with the mission: “to develop locally-led farmer education programs that increase the income, rebuild the soils, and improve the food security of Guatemala’s rural poor.”

Semilla Nueva now develops and implements agricultural solutions through experimentation and collaboration with Guatemalan farmers. The organization’s research looks for ways to produce more food, generate more income, decrease agriculture’s negative effects, and increase nutrition for poor farmers.
A great example of the progress Semilla Nueva has made is pigeonpea. “Pigeonpea is a drought resistant bean bred to grow simultaneously with corn and other crops. It cuts fertilizer costs by fixing organic nitrogen, decreases soil compaction, provides high protein and nutrient rich food, and is open-pollinated, allowing farmers to save their own seed.” Simply giving farmers access to this seed can increase the health of the farmers’ soil, provide more nutritious food, and increase farmers’ incomes.

Although I found out about Semilla Nueva only recently, I love what this organization is doing. They are using sustainable agriculture  and advances in agricultural technologies to lift the poor out of poverty and help them thrive. Semilla Nueva is one of only a handful of organizations focused on agricultural development. They are one-of-a-kind, and I love it!


Are You Thinking of the Children?

Alain Nteff was, and he was thinking about the mothers too when he created his lifesaving app Gifted Mom.

In 2012, at a twenty years of age, Alain Nteff visited a rural hospital to see his friend Conrad Tankou at a medical practice. At this hospital, Nteff was shocked to learn about the high number of deaths of both mothers and children during the process of birth. Many of these tragedies would be preventable with proper antenatal care. Both Nteff and Tankou set out to see how they could to minimize this affliction in their community.

“The problem of maternal and infant death is not a woman issue — it’s a humanitarian issue. Everybody should take seriously. We all have mothers, we all have sisters, and it’s not just a problem for women or girls.” – Alain Nteff

Nteff and Tankou’s part in solving this problem is an app called Gifted Mom. Gifted Mom offers the following services to women in Cameroon and Nigeria:

– Weekly Antenatal care guide and notifications for pregnant women.
– Vaccination guide and notifications for mothers with children under 5 years.
– Breastfeeding guide for mothers and Career Women.
– Pregnancy Calculator for calculating the expected date of delivery.
– Guide for first time pregnancy and teenage mothers
– Send your concerns to a Doctor and get instant reply.
– Journal your journey

This is a free app and the information it offers is crucial in minimizing unnecessary deaths of mothers and children. If moms have a question, all they have to do is text it to Gifted Mom and they will receive immediate, reliable information. This app also tracks vaccinations in an effort to minimize the 4,000 deaths babies suffer from vaccine-preventable diseases. So far 13,300 mothers and children have been registered through this app. That day trip to the hospital turned into a project that’s give life and hope to many.