Sustainable Brands ’16 San Diego is coming up June 6-9, and part of the fun includes this year’s competition for game-changing, purpose-driven startups — the SB Innovation Open, hosted by Target. In part two of our two-part introduction to our inspiring semi-finalists (meet the rest in part one), we meet a soccer ball manufacturer fighting poverty; a truly natural, earth-friendly soap; a clean way to extract copper, and more.
Michael Koh and Brian Quach, best friends from UC Berkeley, have traveled the world and witnessed an imperfect body care industry laden with toxic chemicals. Koh became familiar with the soapberry fruit as a cleansing method during childhood; the company Soapberri was created as both he and Quach saw the potential in making body care products more natural.
Rather than looking to improve resource usage, Soapberri wants to bring its consumers back to basics. The soapberry fruit is plentiful in many parts of the world, and provides a great opportunity to widen the natural body care market. By connecting its consumers back to the environment, Soapberri provides an opportunity to return the world to a simpler, symbiotic relationship with nature.
Franco Silva grew up a soccer player and aspired to pursue a career in medicine. A serious knee injury ended his competitive soccer career and blanked his medical school applications. Wanting to make an impact in the world, and witnessing the power of soccer first hand, Kizazi came to be.
Kizazi utilizes the reach of soccer in order to address global poverty. When each of its ethically produced, game-quality soccer balls is sold, a portion of profits funds microfinance loans in developing nations. The loans have a high return rate, which ensures the sustainability of the fund, as it continues to grow with each sale and is constantly being recycled to different borrowers in need. Silva sees this as an unmatched growth potential — as more people buy Kizazi soccer balls, more money can be loaned out to people in poverty around the globe.
Two things motivated Charlotte Thornton to establish Clean Copper Supply Chain Alliance, pbc. The first was miners from Calama, Chile, who encouraged the idea of Clean Copper™. People in Calama face the risk of shortened lifespans by about 30 years from copper mine and smelter pollution. The second motivating factor was when Thornton met North Face founder Douglas Tompkins and his wife. “I absorbed the urgency of the message of Deep Ecology, and met two people with a vision to effect change on a scale larger than copper mining itself,” she said about the encounter.
As we see an increase in consumer buying power, Clean Copper Supply Chain Alliance sees an opportunity to make an impactful change in the polluting and destructive copper mining industry. By having consumers demand Clean Copper™ products and services, mines will be required to adapt to meet needs. The industrial sector runs on copper, and that is something that not likely to change very soon; by commanding change in the way copper is mined and extracted, Clean Copper Supply Chain Alliance can make a colossal impact in the entire industrial sector.
With undeniable evidence of the correlation between improper nutrition and various chronic diseases, it is clear that changing the way we eat can have a huge impact on our health. MediMeals recognized this, along with the lack of infrastructure of making this a reasonable medical solution. Now, the company has made it possible for partnered doctors to prescribe a healthier diet to their patients to improve their health.
Instead of continuing to prescribe pharmaceuticals to treat illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, doctors can now prescribe a healthy, plant-based diet, which MediMeals delivers. MediMeals makes a healthy, balanced diet accessible and easy to follow, while also creating a community of doctors and patients that believe in the importance of nutrition. The MediMeals team works to integrate environmentally friendly solutions in their operations as well, recognizing the need for a healthy change for the environment as well as for people.
City infrastructure is a necessity commonly overlooked when attempting to create impact. Soofa co-founders Sandra Richter and Jutta Friedrichs, along with their team at MIT Media Lab, sought to change this concept. As a group of female engineers and designers from MIT and Harvard, the Soofa team has developed infrastructure for the public that serves cities and residents in new ways.
For example, the Soofa Bench, piloted with the City of Boston, offers benefit beyond outdoor seating. With solar panels integrated into the design, the Soofa Bench is able to power its own outlet, so that city-goers may charge devices while taking a load off. Also, there is potential to add sensors and WiFi capability, further integrating common public infrastructure and smart technology. The innovation used with the Soofa Bench can be extended to other infrastructure in cities around the world.
Image credit: Kizazi