In a previous article, some of the companies from around the world that met with investors at a recent event of the Unreasonable Institute were identified. We’ll use this opportunity to identify and celebrate the remainder of these good-doers who are helping to make the world a better place.
One common approach for doing good involves the manufacture of products in developing countries that provides jobs at reasonable wages and working conditions, coupled with the sale of those products in North America or Western Europe. Two companies in this Unreasonable group fit that pattern. Yellow Leaf Hammocks employs 200 weavers from tribal communities in Thailand who make interesting, colorful and comfortable hammocks. They are growing rapidly through some prominent outlets and have over 5,000 unique customers. Nisolo uses the same business model to benefit shoemakers in Trujillo, Peru. Nisolo makes fashionable leather shoes that it has sold to customers in all 50 states and 35 countries in spite of a minimal marketing budget of $4,000.
Transformation Textiles is also a manufacturer, but based in Egypt, with sales in Sub Saharan Africa. This husband-and-wife team makes underwear for women and girls that is sold in low cost kits including sanitary pads, leak proof shields, soap and a washing container. Their objective is to enable women and girls to have the necessary feminine hygiene products to stay in school or at work.
Also both in manufacturing and women’s health care, Ayzh (pronounced “eyes”) makes a $3 birth kit which provides the simple tools to ensure a safe birth for both mother and child. It has sold 65,000 kits in India, Haiti, Honduras, Laos and Afghanistan through public, private and non-profit health care providers.
Women also benefit from the work of Aspire (formerly called Imprint Movement), a non-profit that was formed to fight harassment and assault of women in Cairo. With minimal resources, Aspire has mobilized 600 volunteers and 100 part-time workers to support women in a number of Cairo neighborhoods.
The only other non-profit among the Unreasonable companies, Source International organizes communities to hold governments and companies in extractive industries accountable for damage to the communities and environment in Peru, Mexico and elsewhere. In addition to donations, it earns income from settlements won by the affected communities.
Using a rent-to-own financing plan, Tugende lowers the costs of ownership for Uganda motorcycle taxi drivers. Tugende has 680 fully paid or current leases with these transport operators, plus a waiting list of more than 175, for whom it provides a “vehicle out of poverty.”
Musoni Services is also engaged in finance but in a much different way. Musoni has a back-office financial management and management information system for microfinance institutions (MFIs). Many of these clients started as non-profits often with paper-based accounting systems and then moved to spreadsheets as they grew in scale. Musoni provides a logical next step for MFIs with 8,000 to 10,000 clients by providing greater services and flexibility at much less cost than full service banking IT systems.
Like Musoni, Aunt Bertha provides software-as-a-service. However, its users are clients or potential clients of social services agencies, non-profit groups or neighborhood associations. Its customers are those agencies and groups who want to reduce the time and inconvenience for their clients and, at the same time, reduce their own costs of enrolling new clients or referring the ineligible clients elsewhere. Aunt Bertha started in the state of Texas and is growing rapidly over 85,000 users since its launch.
Geel Medical Services provides basic health care to an underserved and rural population in and around Tororo in eastern Uganda and western Kenya. Geel has grown from three small clinics to a small hospital that is capable of offering services that are uncommon in the region including radiology, orthopedics, and gynecology services.
Last in our list of 20+ companies is 17 Triggers, but last only because it is so different than the other companies. Based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 17 Triggers consults for social entrepreneurs in various fields in order to help them create greater impact in less time and for less cost. They’ve completed over 50 projects to date, often at the request of major foundations.
Feel free to contact any of these companies through the contact information provided at their website. All are looking for additional investor or customers — or leads to the next customer or investor.