Grassroots Business Fund: Building Businesses With More Than Money

It’s something many investors don’t want to hear: Businesses that provide economic opportunity for low-income people in challenging markets around the world require a lot of expensive hand-holding. Harold Rosen, founder of the Grassroots Business Fund isn’t afraid to tell them. “What we do is often an unsexy, underdeveloped enterprise. We are helping a lot of people

SevaMob: Mobile Services to Spread Health Care Across India

Shelley Saxena, a mobile technology entrepreneur in Atlanta, had a head start when he launched SevaMob, a distribution system for low-cost preventive health services across India. But that didn’t save him from having to make a few strategic pivots as his new business grew. Saxena used capital and intellectual property from his earlier startup, SaasMob,

KZ Noir: Premium Coffee Prices for Premium Social Impact

Premium coffee is perhaps the original example of how positive social impact can drive a successful business. Many connoisseurs who care about eco-friendly farming, fair wages and low-income community development are willing to pay more for their cup of joe. But it’s got to be good. In Rwanda, KZ Noir Ltd. is riding this strategy

Warby Parker: Buy One, Give One Pair of Trendy Eyeglasses

Warby Parker sounds like a white-shoe law firm, not one of the the hottest socially conscious businesses around. The maker of hip eyewear has created a sensation with its designer glasses, disrupting the industry’s entrenched incumbents with trendy eyeglass frames that sell for $100, not $600. (The company’s name comes from two obscure characters in

How the First Lady Helped Small Groceries Reduce ‘Food Deserts’ in California

Making the investment case for bringing healthy food to low-income communities was none other than the First Lady. And inner-city grocery businesses and their customers are benefitting in a big way. Michelle Obama announced the California FreshWorks fund in 2011, highlighting the need for financing inner-city grocery markets in order to bring affordable, healthy options

Sweet Deal: How One Company Found a New Way to Support Cacao Farmers

Improving the productivity and livelihoods of the more than 2.5 billion farmers around the world should be one of the biggest impact investment opportunities around. Yet, small-scale agriculture businesses, with their seasonal revenues and volatile prices, have generally been seen as too risky and troublesome for equity impact investors. Maya Mountain Cacao launched in Belize

EcoLogic: Packaging Sustainability

In the hierarchy of waste, “reduction” has the highest value, even above reuse, recycling and recovery. Julie Corbett launched EcoLogic Brands Inc. in 2008 with a driving goal: to reduce America’s rising pile of plastic. Six years later, the company’s “eco.bottle” is in stores carrying Seventh Generation’s 4x liquid laundry detergent, Bodylogix protein powder, and