Creating empowering jobs and supporting communities in underserved regions globally through the sale of artisanal goods, culturally immersive travel and Fairtrade-certified foods.
A social enterprise is a business-like entity that is driven not by profit, but by a specific social mission. Its primary purpose can be to generate funds for a charity or a specific cause, create empowering employment, deliver programming, or raise awareness for a philanthropic cause.
By applying innovative business approaches, social enterprises can find solutions to the world’s greatest social and environmental challenges, solutions that would be beyond the capacity of traditional charities. And because they speak the same language, social enterprises have far greater power to build partnerships with the business world, leveraging corporate connections and infrastructure to scale even greater impact.
In 2010, Craig and his team created the innovative social enterprise, ME to WE, which created empowering jobs for communities in underserved rural regions around the world through the sale of artisans products, culturally immersive travel and Fairtrade certified coffee and chocolate to help families lift themselves out of poverty.
Artisanal products were sold through major retailers, often allowing customers to see directly how their purchase made an impact. Celebrities like Natalie Portman, Nelly Furtado and Lilly Singh helped promote the artisan offerings, further increasing the social impacts.
Under the innovative model, which began with just 20 artisans, women who once spent their days fetching water, farming and doing whatever they could to survive and support their families, were able to follow their dreams as entrepreneurs and artists, working as leaders in their communities.
The social enterprise partnered with artisans in Kenya and Ecuador, empowering each woman to build a brighter future for herself, her family and her community. Women were able to earn twice as much as what is considered a fair wage in their country without giving up their traditional way of life. In total, over 1,500 jobs were created for women.
The operation also offered small-business training for marginalized women to further develop a source of income to support their families, empowering female artisans in Kenya and Ecuador with financial literacy skills.
The social enterprise also offered culturally immersive, service-oriented eco-trips to Kenya, Ecuador, India and other locations over the years. Over 40,000 people, including students, youth groups, families and employee groups, participated in trips to villages. Offering connective experiences in partnership with communities, travelers gained a new perspective and understanding on global, social and environmental issues.
These travel participants worked in partnership with the communities, including providing millions of dollars of charitable contributions to support sustainable development programs. The shared experiences on community-led projects resulted in transformational outcomes for both travelers and community members alike.