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The mission of the Your Mark on the World Center is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.

SeedEquity Ventures


This category includes articles about nonprofit organizations and NGOs that are actively working to accomplish a social mission. The work of foundations that primarily work as grantors to other nonprofits is covered in Philanthropy.

Only The Relentless Succeed: 7 Lessons From 7 Summits And 7 Seas

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

You don’t sail across the world’s seven seas and summit the world’s tallest mountains without learning something. Martin Frey, the Guinness World Record holder for being the first person to do it, sums up the key to success in one word: “relentless.”

Frey, a highly successful business leader who was an early employee at Cisco, says, “I’ve been an angel investor but am currently transitioning my time and focus towards projects that drive social innovation, and my portfolio towards investments that have a social impact.”

He explained key lessons from his adventures that have meaning for social entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders.

Martin Frey during his North Pacific sail, courtesy of Martin Frey.

Martin Frey during his North Pacific sail, courtesy of Martin Frey.

Climbing the seven summits, the highest peaks on all seven continents, and sailing across the seven major oceans of the world of the world took 11 years. He began in 2005 and finished on April 17, 2016.

  1. “Your attitude will define your success more than your capabilities.” Frey learned this lesson on his first summit, Denali, back in 2005. He was in a group of six people, only two of whom reached the summit. He says he had no physical capacity the others didn’t, nor did he have more climbing experience. He said, “When it didn’t go as they wanted, it bothered them. It caused physical deterioration to accelerate.”
  2. “Embrace the unknown when everything is ambiguous.” One key factor, he notes, is the ability to accept the vicissitudes of life. He saw that both on the mountains and in the sailing races around the world. He noted, “We were in a storm for six days and it started to get to people. They couldn’t deal with the uncertainty.“
  3. “When you are tacking into the wind you have to maintain momentum.” Momentum is more important than short term direction. You can’t steer the ship without forward momentum. This lesson, he says, is especially important for nonprofits. In any business, it is more important to make progress, find customers or donors and to make something happen than it is to be on exactly the right course. This insight leads to the next.
  4. “Constantly course correct as you go.” Sometimes, he says, you should change course. This has to be done along the way. You can’t return to port, you must keep moving forward, but with an adjusted goal or destination in mind.
  5. “Anticipate your transitions.” He shared this insight with students graduating from Utah Valley University in May of this year. “While cross-country skiing to the South Pole, I realized that I was in another transition, having just completed the 7 summits. As I crossed the barren Antarctica, I planned my sailing circumnavigation with my family and then actually purchased a sail boat while on my satellite phone still in my skis. I knew by then that if I didn’t move quickly that my ultimate goal of achieving a world first would be at risk.”
  6. “Relentlessly solve problems and remove variables.” He says, “We passed a lot of other sailors because we were relentless at solving problems. Others would get stuck in port waiting for a part. It wasn’t brashness, it was a relentless determination.” He said he consciously worked to remove the variables that would take the team off course, sometimes thinking two or three ports ahead to order parts and supplies that would be needed along the way. In Bali, he hired a guy on a moped to take him to a machine shop to have a part made. “I was relentless.”
  7. “Climb the invisible mountains.” While Frey climbed mountains you can see, he says, some people climb invisible mountains. These may be personal challenges like overcoming addiction or learning to speak Mandarin, or they may be service to others. Feeding the homeless may not bring the notoriety of climbing Everest, but it is a mountain worth climbing. He said, “My wife Kym has focused her life on climbing the mountains of service. Her support and influence has improved the lives of children, shut-ins, the hospitalized and the disabled. Sometimes she wishes she had more visible accomplishments that she could lay claim to, like starting a business or writing a book, but her dedication to service always brings her back to climbing the invisible mountains. These types of meaningful pursuits will culminate in a life that matters, and certainly bring more joy than any business or book.”
Martin Frey, atop Everest, courtesy of Martin Frey

Martin Frey, atop Everest, courtesy of Martin Frey

Frey is at heart an engineer. He has no interest in ideas that sound good and don’t work. When he talks to nonprofit leaders, he is focused on measuring success. “Donors and investors also need quantifiable metrics to evaluate various charities and ultimately determine the results of their charitable giving or impact investing.” He believe these lesson have value because they work.

On Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Frey will join me here for a live discussion about his seven lessons from sailing around the world and climbing the highest peaks on all seven continents. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Announcing My New Social Media Course for Nonprofits

Recently, I completed and posted a new course on social media for nonprofits on Udemy that you can complete in under an hour and costs just $25.

As I sit on the board of one nonprofit, the public relations advisory board for another, I have seen up close how daunting social media can be to a nonprofit where every dollar is precious and time is a luxury that other people have.

Social media is an important tool for nonprofits, not just in fundraising, but for developing a community and for issue advocacy and awareness. Well-crafted social media campaigns can reach more people than a good write-up in your local paper.

Blue bird cartoon and social media icon set in speech bubble shape. Vector file layered for easy manipulation and custom coloring.

The course, “Basic Social Media for Nonprofits,” will help organizations with up to $10 million annual budgets develop a strategy and actionable tactics that don’t take an inordinate amount of time nor much of a budget in order to thoughtfully develop an audience, a community and a donor base via social media.

Udemy is a leading platform for online courses. I have posted four courses on the platform, including this one. Earlier this month, I announced my new course “Intro to Impact Investing.”

Over the past several years, like many journalists, I’ve had to learn much of the art and science of social media. Having attracted over 40,000 followers on Twitter, over 6,000 fans on Facebook and over 5,000 connections on LinkedIn, I realized that my audience is much bigger than most nonprofits. Many nonprofits have a clear advantage, however, with a natural and committed fan base among those they serve and the their friends and families.

My new course is regularly just $25, but you can register using the code “DOGOODER” and get 20 percent off and pay just $20. Let me share a secret I haven’t posted elsewhere. If you join the Doers Circle here on Patreon, you can get even bigger discounts plus other benefits!

Social Entrepreneur Creates ‘Nobel Prize For Business’ Focused On Social Responsibility

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Per L. Saxegaard of Norway recognized years ago that there was no Nobel Prize for Business. The closest that one comes is the prize for Economics. Saxegaard decided not only to create a prize modeled on the Nobel Prizes, but to focus it on social responsibility, what he calls being “businessworthy.” (Disclosure: I recently wrote an unrelated piece for the Rotarian Magazine, affiliated with Rotary International, which is mentioned in this article.)

A former investment banker, Saxegaard founded the Business for Peace Foundation and assembled a team of past Nobel Laureates in Peace and Economics to serve as a the panel of judges. Ten years and dozens of winners later, the Business for Peace Awards are internationally recognized.

Past winners include Jeffrey R. Immelt, CEO of GE and Sir Richard Branson of Virgin. The 2016 winners included Tore Lærdal, founder of Lærdal Medical and and Dr Jennifer Nkuene Riria who launched a successful microfinance institution in Kenya.

Given his experience in assessing and recognizing socially responsible businessses, Saxegaard was invited to be a keynote speaker on Saturday, November 12, 2016 at the Rotary International at the United Nations Day event where eight businesses will receive the Rotary Responsible Business Award. I’ve also been invited to participate in the program that day.

The award recipients will include Coca Cola Beverages Pakistan and Mercantil Banco Universal. Six individuals will also be recognized. These include Juan Silva Beauperthuy, Queremos Graduarnos Program (We Want to Graduate), of Venezuela; Jean-Paul Faure, Le Trophée du Rotary, new business development program, of France; Suresh Goklaney, Jal Jeevan Centers, community water purification plants, of India; Annemarie Mostert, Sesego Cares, entrepreneurial, leadership and job training, of South Africa; Stephanie Woollard, Seven Women, Nepalese crafts, of Australia; and, Lawrence Wright, Launch Detroit, women-led small business support, of Michigan.

John Germ, President of Rotary International, explains the reason for recognizing these business leaders, “We want to lift up those entrepreneurs who leverage their skills to develop their local economies, serve their communities, and promote socially responsible business practices.”

He went on to explain his hope that these businesses will play a role in solving some of the world’s big problems. “Getting businesses of all kinds to invest, not only in profits, but in ethical and responsible practices is key to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Rotary stands with the United Nations in achieving the Global Goals and is committed to bringing together entrepreneurs, like this year’s outstanding Responsible Business honorees, to make an outsized impact on their communities.”

Saxegaard explains that the Business for Peace Foundation is a nonprofit that is funded by donations and sponsorships. For the awards program, he uses the same venue that the Nobel Prize uses, the City Hall of Oslo.

Saxegaard encourages business leaders to make the “businessworthy pledge”:

I am a business leader who knows that business cannot succeed in societies that fail. I will do my utmost to be businessworthy in all my efforts, and to tune my business to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. I call on my peers to do the same.

He says, “This year the businessworthy pledge was personally signed committing business leaders representing some USD $700 BN in sales to tune their business to the SDGs and be businessworthy. This is due to spark a global campaign rallying other business leaders to join and commit.”

He wants, he says, to “inspire business leaders to be businessworthy; ie., create value by improving society, acting responsibly.” He adds, “Not all profits are created equal.”

Per L. Saxegaard, Executive Chairman, courtesy of the Business for Peace Foundation

Per L. Saxegaard, Executive Chairman, courtesy of the Business for Peace Foundation

Saxesgaard offers three tips to help businesses become more businessworthy.

Business must contribute to accomplishing the SDGs.

Saxedgaard says, “The forces of technology, globalization and climate change are simultaneously accelerating in a non-linear way, posing demanding implications to society as well as changing the landscapes of business. Volatility and complexity are increasing. There is a need for business to adjust its maps.”

He notes that global political leaders signed on last year to support the accomplishment of the SDGs by 2030. He notes, “These goals are unrealistic if business does not engage and contribute actively. A businessworthy mindset and practice puts a name on the map adjustment needed for business to contribute to the SDGs.”

Business needs to focus on improving society.

Saxegaard says, “The increasing interdependence and complexity confronting business, forces a broadening of the business mindset that have dominated the last few decenniums. Transparency has become the new standard. Incumbent structures are increasingly being challenged. Consumers and society increase their influence as we become more and more interconnected. More than before there is a need for business to broaden its thinking and include stakeholder and society in its reflections when seeking to create value.”

He redefines the marketplace to shift the lens through which business leaders see the world. “Societal needs define markets and create opportunities for growth. Business thinking needs to focus on products and business models that help improve society. Being businessworthy coins this kind of mindset.”

Purpose is the language of the millennial generation.

“Purpose nourishes meaning. To attract the talents of tomorrow, business needs to have a purpose bigger than profit, to make money with a higher meaning. Money might motivate, but no amount can inspire. Being businessworthy coins business seeking to improve society while acting responsibly, helping solve problems that create value for both business and society,” Saxegaard concludes.

On Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 11:30 AM, live from the United Nations, Saxegaard will join me for a discussion about becoming more businessworthy. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Traci Johnson Kicks Off Campaign for Autism Inclusion

Former model Traci Lynn Johnson, wife of Tiki Barber, is making a difference for the autism nonprofit KultureCity. She’s leading the new campaign to help everyone understand that even though those with autism may struggle to use words to express love, they still do.

Traci says, “KC is launching a new national campaign called Love Without Words. This campaign is designed to show that while people with autism sometimes have difficulty demonstrating love verbally, it does not mean that they are not capable of love.”

Traci Johnson, courtesy of Kulture City

Traci Johnson, courtesy of Kulture City

“We have launched this campaign with different celebrities, influencers and companies,” she continues. “In this campaign, we are having these celebrities and influencers show how they demonstrate love on a daily basis without using words. We then have a call to action to ask everyone that we are reaching how they, too, show love without words. And of course, there is also a donation aspect as well.”

Traci notes that people with autism are often poorly understood. “We often face the challenge of people not realizing that children (and adults) with autism are a lot like able-bodied individuals, as well. People often think that just because someone has autism means that they don’t have feelings or emotions. This could not be further from the truth.”

The misunderstandings people have, lead to conscious and sometimes unintended discrimination, she says. “We live in a world where there is still racism, bigotry and discrimination and these feelings often are directed towards people with disabilities, such as autism.”

Traci approaches the campaign with optimism. She says, “Our success would further the goal of inclusion and social/cultural acceptance for those with autism. This is important because while a cure, treatment or reason for why autism occurs would be phenomenal, society as a whole, needs to learn how to accept people with autism until such a time that treatment may exist, because autism is not going away.”

On Thursday, November 17, 2016 at noon Eastern, Traci will join me here for a live discussion about the new campaign and its potential for impacting families with members with autism. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Traci Johnson and Tiki Barber, courtesy of Kulture City

Traci Johnson and Tiki Barber, courtesy of Kulture City

More about Kulture City:

Twitter: @kulturecity

Kulture City is the fastest growing autism non-profit in the country. KC’s mission is to gain autism acceptance in every community throughout the world. KC is striving to accomplish this by pushing boundaries and by changing the culture that is considered normal.

Traci’s bio:

Twitter: @traciljohnson

Traci Johnson, is the wife of Tiki Barber, mother of two little girls, Brooklyn and Teagan, philanthropist and marketing consultant. She graduated from Mount Saint Mary College and attended New York University for her Master’s Degree in Journalism.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!


Mother and Daughter Social Entrepreneurs March to Their Own Tunes

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Last summer in Dallas, I met a remarkable mother and daughter pair of social entrepreneurs. While each heads in her own direction, both are having an impact.

Hannah Kerchner is a high school student who recognized the difficulty some students had in acquiring a band instrument and that many who were interested couldn’t join simply for lack of a few hundred dollars to buy or rent one.

Hannah says, “Around the United States there have been an increasing number of budget cuts in schools and an increasing number of low income families. Due to these cuts music programs have been cut of their funds sometimes completely. Student’s aren’t having the opportunity to be in band any more.”

Hannah launched Hannah’s Musical Hope to provide students with instruments. She explains, “To make sure every student has the opportunity to be in band Hannah’s Musical Hope provides instruments to low income students and schools. We take old instruments collecting dust in people’s attics, garages, or houses, refurbish them then donate them.”

Hannah’s impact goes beyond music. “Everything is run by high school students so that students also have the opportunity to make an impact in their community,” she notes.

Hannah says the biggest challenge she faces is in raising money. “The biggest challenge we face is fundraising. We have instruments, and we have people who need instruments but we don’t have the money to fix the instruments or grow the business.” She is running a crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo’s Generosity, but hasn’t made much progress.

Sadly, Hannah acknowledges that sometimes instruments aren’t the only thing preventing a school from running a band program. “If a school is trying to cut out their music program completely we can give them all the donations and instruments they need but if there is no support in the community or willingness by the school board then the music program will still be lost.”

Hannah remain optimistic. “If we are able to give all low income students and schools what they need then all students will have an equal opportunity to a full education. Music is really important in schools and has been proved to increase test scores and helps students learn better. If Hannah’s Musical Hope is successful, a happier, healthier, more responsible, and smarter society will be created.”

Hannah’s mother, Angela”Angie” Kerchner, MD, is a medical doctor who is launching a practice in holistic medicine that combines the best of traditional and alternative medicine she calls the Avalo Center for Integrative Health & Wellness.

She says doing medical school and residency with a young family wasn’t easy. “Without the strength and support of my family, I would not be where I am today.”

She quickly became disillusioned with the practice of medicine.

Angie says, “When I reached the end of my training, I realized there were limitations on my ability to care for patients the way I felt they wanted and deserved. Once I realized all that I had worked for was not what I had envisioned when I chose to become a doctor, I knew I had to push further, find a way to help physicians like myself practice medicine in a way that felt like we were really making a difference in the health of our communities.”

She explains the pressure she felt, saying, “The mainstream medical industry was pushing hard for me to enter a practice where I knew I would feel that I was cheated and would be cheating my patients. I couldn’t do it. I knew I needed to find another way to make a difference. That was how the plans for Avalo were born.”

Moving forward and overcoming her fears presented a big challenge, she says. “The biggest challenge to overcome was myself. Finding the courage to leave the safe space of fitting in with the conventional healthcare system and following the path that my heart led me toward was the hardest part of this journey. When my father passed away from cancer earlier this year, I finally knew I had no choice but to forge ahead. Settling for living and working within the confines of artificial boundaries is simply not option for me.”

Angie is no quitter. “I have overcome a lot of challenges in my life, and this one is no different. I simply refuse to give up until I know I have done absolutely everything in my power to conquer any hurdles that may lie ahead.”

Angie finds strength and motivation from her patients. “More than anyone or anything else, it is my patients that have given me the constant reminder that change is not only needed, but imperative. The interactions I have with the faces and stories of complete strangers are what truly keep me on the path toward making a difference. I won’t give up on Avalo, because doing so would be giving up on those patients.”

On Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Hannah and Angie will join me for a live discussion about their remarkable efforts to make the world better in their own ways. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Hannah Kerchner, courtesy of Hannah's Musical Hope

Hannah Kerchner, courtesy of Hannah’s Musical Hope

More about Hannah’s Musical Hope:

Twitter: @h_musical_hope

Hannah’s Musical Hope is focused on Keeping the Music playing. With large budget cuts in schools and an increasing number of low income families music programs are dying and student’s don’t have the opportunity to be in band. To solve the increasing problem we take used musical instruments, refurbish them, then donate them to low income students and schools. Hannah’s Musical Hope is a certified 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2015. Everything is run by high school students so they can learn leadership, responsibility, how to run a business, and help their community.

More about the Avalo Center for Integrative Health & Wellness:

Twitter: @drangie_avalo

Avalo Center for Integrative Health & Wellness, Inc, is a start-up company working to solve some of the major issues plaguing healthcare in the U.S., including high cost and poor outcomes. We are working to fully integrate conventional family medicine together with holistic, preventive, healing and wellness practices under one roof so that patients can get well and stay well. We are doing this under a unique business model that we believe can lower healthcare costs for patients and companies, will provide for a strong relationship between patients & their doctors, and provide more access to personal care. Avalo is focused on making sure that the major stakeholders in health – patients & their physicians – are able to work together to meet health goals without barriers.

Hannah’s bio:

Twitter: @HKerchner

Hannah Kerchner is a high school student from Iowa. When she first joined the band in the 6th grade, Hannah played trumpet, which allowed her to learn with the same instrument her dad had received when he was in high school. A 3rd generation trumpet player, she instantly fell in love with both the instrument and music.

By the time she reached high school, Hannah had become more involved in band activities. Music had become an important part of her life. In her own words, band was more than a class or a hobby, “the members of the band are my friends, my team, and my family.” She also recognized that participation in band was what had kept her most interested in school. Hannah loves to learn. Unlike other classes, where an assignment is completed, playing trumpet gives Hannah a perpetual challenge. She can always take learning to a new level. For someone who loves to learn the way she does, band was the perfect class.

Hannah began to realize that some of her friends were not in band because of the cost. She then found out that schools had cut fine arts programs completely due to shrinking educational budgets, and many others (including her own school) were struggling. Some students were unable to take part in band due to the high cost of instruments, and dwindling music education budgets meant school rentals were also becoming more difficult than in the past. Knowing how much music had helped her do well in school and find her niche, she wanted to do something to help.

In May of 2015, Hannah attended an entrepreneurial conference. It was there that she learned how to start a business, and that no matter age or circumstances, everyone in the U.S. has the same opportunity. While at the conference, Hannah received an incredible amount of encouragement to follow her heart and live her dream.

Within a few months, Hannah was able to begin to see her goal become reality. Hannah’s Musical Hope was officially incorporated in her home state of Iowa in mid-2015. By August, instrument donations began to come in, and by late fall, Hannah completed the necessary steps to file for her non-profit organization status. It was a lot of work, but she kept working at it, refusing to give up on her goal.

Fundraisers and t-shirt sales helped pay the legal fees to send in the paperwork. Then, in July 2016, Hannah received official notice from the IRS that Hannah’s Musical Hope was officially granted 501(c)3 non-profit status.

Hannah is looking forward to continuing to grow Hannah’s Musical Hope to help her own community and others, as well. She & the team also hope to develop HMH chapters in other school districts so that other kids can learn about how to run a business, become leaders in their communities, and to see and hear the difference kids can make if they set their goals high.

Hannah is involved in West Branch High’s marching, concert, and jazz bands, and also enjoys playing in the band for Christopher Jive & The Uptown 45 Show Choir. In 2016, the show choir band, dubbed, “Nick & the Lemon Heads,” won Best Band Awards at three of their competitions. Hannah also participates in drama, works a part-time job in addition to running Hannah’s Musical Hope, and enjoys time with her family, friends, and her dog, Sirius. Keep an eye out for her upcoming first book, which is scheduled to be published later this year.

Dr. Angela Kerchner, MD.

Dr. Angela Kerchner, MD.

Angela’s bio:

Twitter: @drangiekerchner

Angela Kerchner M.D. is board certified in both family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. She is Founder & President of Avalo Center for Integrative Health and Wellness, Inc. After attending the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine, she completed her residency in family medicine at the University of Iowa’s Genesis Quad Cities Family Medicine Residency Program in Davenport, Iowa, leading to diplomacy from the American Board of Family Medicine. After residency Dr. Kerchner earned additional board certification through the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine. In addition to her professional pursuits, Dr. Kerchner has been working on medical missions and education efforts in Haiti since the earthquake shook the nation in 2010. At home, while working extensively as an emergency room physician in underserved communities, Dr. Kerchner recognized the challenges that face both patients and physicians in the current healthcare system. Realizing the need for alternative practice models, she began attending business conferences to increase skills in entrepreneurship, leadership, and business communication leading up to the development of the plans for Avalo Canters. Outside of her professional life, Dr. Kerchner is married and is mom to three children, three dogs, and three cats. She enjoys art, literature, and travel. The family lives on a small farm in Iowa.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!


Cancer Survivor, Sommelier Infuses New Venture With Purpose

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Kirsten Henry Fox is an executive sommelier and entrepreneur who survived breast cancer in 2014. The cancer scare inspired her newest venture, Uplift Gift, a company launched on October 1st that sends gift boxes, typically including just the right wine for the occasion, to people experiencing cancer or other challenge.

Fox says, “For our launch, we are offering two types of gift boxes: one without wine, one with wine. Each gift box contains the following: a soft, ivory pashmina, hand-crafted chocolates, gourmet tea sampler, velvety sipping cocoa, three essential oils and a custom, hand-written greeting card. Optionally, if desired and legal to ship into the distressed friend’s state, the customer can add a bottle of white or red wine.”

“The gift boxes we will be offering at our launch,” she says, “include items that personally were meaningful for me when I was going through the trauma of diagnosis of stage 2 breast cancer. These are similar to packages my friends brought to me.”

The package without wine costs $176 with shipping. The package with wine costs $205. She projects a 53 percent gross margin with these prices.

From the start, 5 percent of the sales price will go to charity. Initially, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation will be the beneficiary. Ultimately, Fox says, she’s solicit charity nominations from her vendors.

Over time, she says, she plans to add more gift boxes for more circumstances.

Kirsten Henry Fox, courtesy of Uplift Gift

Kirsten Henry Fox, courtesy of Uplift Gift

Fox is the author of The Profitable Wine List and is also the CEO and founder of the Culinary Wine Institute.

There’s a need, she says, for the Uplift Gift service. “When friends are going through life’s challenges – divorce, death, bad medical diagnosis, pet loss – women are compelled to do something to show they care, but often they don’t have the time or ideas as to what to do, especially when their friends live out of town. They ponder what to send that means a lot to show the depth of their feelings; their friend is struggling and needs more than a ‘typical’ gift. And finding words to say is sometimes even harder.”

Fox hopes that the carefully curated packages will give recipients comfort, not only because of the contents, but also from seeing the donation to a nonprofit.

She also sees that her venture is stepping into an emotionally difficult situation, raising the bar on customer service. “Both parties involved are in pain – the supportive friend needs a meaningful way to show her love; the distressed friend is dealing with a huge life challenge. We can’t screw up by over promising and under delivering. If we screw that up, we will have two hurting people hurting more.”

There are limitations inherent in her business model. The prices are not accessible to everyone. “These are not gift boxes for women who are trying to put food on the table or who are struggling to pay bills. We help them by funding non-profits,” she says.

Despite the challenges and limitations, Fox is confident that Uplift Gift can make a difference for women in distress. “Our success will mean that distressed women will feel their friends’ love when they need it most.”

Karyn Barsa, a recognized leader in social entrepreneurship who previously served as CEO of Investors’ Circle, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing together social entrepreneurs and accredited investors, sees the potential for Fox to make a big difference. Uplift Gift makes it easy to express support and affection, fundamental to the peace we seek throughout the world.”

On Thursday, October 6, 2016 at 3:00 Eastern, Fox will join me here for a live discussion about the launch of Uplift Gift and how she hopes to help women going through what she’s already been through. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

NET Effects Traders: Changing Lives. One Bag at a Time.

This is a guest post from Ardice Farrow, the Founder and Director of Net Effects Traders.

At the age of 63 I looked back on my amazing life. A life full of adventure, love and deep satisfaction. I looked forward into those “golden years” – the last third of my life and wondered to myself “What do I want to do with these years? What do I want my final legacy to be?”

I knew I wanted to be having the time of my life, I wanted another grand adventure and I knew that I wanted to contribute to women and children. I wanted to “Retire on Purpose”. I had no experience with nonprofits, social programs or teaching in the classroom but at the age of 63 there is little to lose and much to gain so I hopped on a plane to Cambodia after a short volunteer stint in Tanzania.

I did not expect to fall in love at this late stage in my life. But I did. Within weeks I was head over heels in love with Cambodia. Despite the wretched past of the Khmer Rouge and massive genocide and the generational poverty that grips most of the country the Cambodians are the most loving, generous, joy filled and funny folks I have ever met. I was further seduced by the warm tropical weather the drama and the romance of the torrid monsoon rains and the mighty moonlit Mekong River. I loved the food, the crazy traffic and I could wear flip flops every day.

I was soon hired by a large non-profit organization to create leadership programs for young adults, empowerment programs for impoverished moms and women working in small fair trade garment centers.

After two years of experiencing the power of Trade instead of Aid, trying to break the cycle of generational poverty, I had developed a huge affinity for the disenfranchised women of Cambodia. They had become my friends. I had sat in their humble homes – hundreds of make-shift shelters built on an old landfill with conditions that would appall most of us here in the West. I had shared the triumph of their children in school, the heartbreak of abusive husbands and not having enough food and helped those in the small garment centers build their confidence, self-respect and leadership skills.


Empowered by their growing skills as artisans and good wages I saw these capable women become confident, as collecting a fair wage led to more financial freedom and allowed them to make good decisions for their families and continue to educate themselves. My adventure had turned a corner. I was now an advocate to end generational poverty and provide structures for partnership instead philanthropy. I asked myself ‘What could I do to accelerate this process?’

And so Net Effects Traders was born. Net Effects Traders is a focused on creating fabulous fashion bags for western consumers made by artisans in Cambodia for whom I provide training and fair wage jobs. I also have the great good fortune of partnering with a Phnom Penh design and production team and a Cambodian business leader who had been training landmine and polio survivors, hearing impaired and impoverished mothers for over a decade.

These are incredibly wonderful and hardworking people would have been left to scavenge the streets at night for cans and bottles to sell just to feed their families or been found on a street corner, child in hand, begging for a few coins from passing cars.

Today the Net Effects collection features everything from wallet – clutch hybrids to durable beach totes and hip retro style messenger bags. We decided our colorful bags and totes should be “zero waste” made from repurposed industrial and agricultural netting found in Cambodia that would otherwise end up in the city dump. We also decided to give back further by donating portion of our proceeds to “Nothing But Nets”, the international organization that is distributing mosquito nets to impoverished families around the globe.

I now have the pleasure of promoting the notion of “Shopping for Change” and speaking to the life-altering impact consumers can have simply by becoming more and more conscious about the companies they buy from. One does not need to hop on a plane and fly across the globe to make a difference. But I’m glad I did.

Ardice Farrow

Ardice Farrow

About Ardice Farrow:

Ardice splits her time between Cambodia and Los Angeles, as Founder and Director of Net Effects Traders. Practicing Trade not Aid, Ardice advocates to impact and empower disenfranchised Cambodian women through training, fair wage jobs and great working conditions.

She Left a Student; She Returned an Activist

Everything changed when she got there.

Ann Cotton was studying in Cambridge. She wanted to know why so few girls were attending school in Zimbabwe. There were 7 boys for every girl in school. She’d repeatedly heard that parents didn’t want to send their girls to school.

Then, in 1991, she traveled to Zimbabwe.

When she talked to parents, she learned they did want to educate their girls. The problem was money. They didn’t have enough money to send all their children to school. Forced to choose, they sent their boys who had better prospects for work.

She returned to Cambridge an activist.

Ann Cotton

Ann Cotton

No one believed her. She had to go it alone. She held bake sales to raise the money to send 32 girls to school in Zimbabwe. The girls prospered and Ann grew the program.

She called her organization The Campaign for Female Education or CamFed. CamFed has now directly supported the education of 1.4 million children in five countries in Africa.

What if she had never gone?

Learn more on Forbes.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!


1.1 Million Refugees Arrive in Germany; What Happens Next Will Inspire You

She thought the images weren’t fair.

When Anne Kjaer Reichert saw the photos in the media of some of the 1.1 million refugees arriving in Germany, she said,

“We need to stop talking about refugees and start talking with refugees instead.”

Anne met a refugee named Mohammad, who had been a programmer.

He explained that he couldn’t program because he didn’t have a computer.

She knew that 43,000 I.T. jobs were open in Germany.

So, she decided to launch the ReDI School of Digital Integration to teach them coding skills.

In one year, she launched her nonprofit school and has already trained dozens of students.

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan even visited the school and “geeked out” with students.

The program is working!

Her students even created an app called Bureaucrazy to help refugees navigate the bureaucracy.

Rotary’s John Hewko said, “If we don’t act now to build the conditions for peace, then events that undermine it will only increase.”

Learn more on Forbes.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!


She Feared the Worst and Found It Was True

“We had to let them use us,” they said.

Celeste’s mind raced. What did they mean?

She feared the worst. The girls confirmed that they were being sexually exploited for access to feminine hygiene products.

The girls were ecstatic receiving their first reusable pads.

Celeste Mergens is the founder of Days for Girls, a nonprofit that provides washable, reusable sanitary pads to girls in the developing world.

Celeste says, “If you are sitting on a pile of leaves [for lack of a pad] how can you believe you have as much to contribute to your community as anyone else and that your voice counts?”

She’s learned that 2.6 million girls are not attending school in Kenya alone. Providing sanitary pads keeps girls in school and breaks cycles of poverty—in addition to reducing gender-based violence.

Having already reached 300,000 girls in 101 countries, her “audacious” goal is to reach every woman and girl in the world by 2022.

Learn more here.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!


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