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Occupy your supply chain - can crowdsourcing be a game changer for sustainable brands?

Sustainable Life Media

Sustainable brands have the opportunity to take advantage of this new level of connectivity with producers and consumers to do what their profit-only competitors cannot: build passionate, engaged customers around real stories of impact.

My team at the Hoop and I just had great piece published by Sustainable Life Media where we discuss how crowdsourcing is the key to unlocking massive customer engagement opportunities that only sustainable brands can master.

Millions of people across the globe have been inspired by the recent "occupy" movement that has ignited in Wall Street, a movement that at its heart is about the rights to participate, share, and have a voice in global forces shaping our lives. We believe that sustainable brands and companies investing in sustainable supply chains are a phenomenal foundation for everyday people to start participating in supply chains of products that come through our lives every day.

These companies not only have the impact that inspire real participation, but stories that can - and should - be owned and shared by everyone involved across the whole value chain: from producer, to brand, to retailer, to customer. Crowdsourcing is a unique and powerful way to enable that mass ownership.

Check out the article!

The Hoop Fund in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and more

The Hoop in the Wall Street Journal

We had a great summer in terms of press coverage at the Hoop Fund, with stories in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Reuters, Triple Pundit, and Fair Trade USA.

Below are couple of excerpts from Forbes and the Wall Street Journal.

Forbes - Greed has gone good

By Elimra Bayrasli

Patrick Donohue, Co-Founder & CEO of the Hoop Fund, an e-Bay meets Kiva crowd funding platform that allows individuals to purchase “ethically” products and to invest in the farmers and artisans behind them, is hoping for the same. “We are looking for partners and investors to help us take the Hoop to the next level,” says Donohue. They just kicked off a new seed round of $350k, of which they’ve raised $75k from Hub Ventures and First Light Ventures.” Donohue notes that both are “pioneers in the SOCAP community.”

Community caught my eye. It’s not a term you’d find flowing from Wall Street’s lips. Donohue believes that’s changing.

“When the market’s crashed in 2008, I think a lot of people realized just how much we need community. Not only did out of control money put us in a bad situation, but we realized that we can’t rely 100% on 401ks and the market to take care of us. Trying to make so much money so that you don’t need anyone is a ridiculous and lonely pursuit. So impact investing not only helps build the types of community infrastructure we need to thrive, but it also forces us to view our financial returns along side the society we’re building and what we’re doing to our ecosystems. It keeps us connected. That’s a very good thing.”

The caring conundrum – beyond badges for social enterprise

save the earthGreen not working? Try chocolate...
source:cafepress

At a loss for how to explain what I do for a living, my sister once described my work as “something to do with pyramid schemes and poor people.” I can laugh at it now (the base of the pyramid is an awful phrase for a number of reasons), but the incident highlights how contradictory most people find the combination of capitalism and doing good for the world.

Even when familiar with enterprises that use “capitalism for good”, most people generally call to mind a class of companies that fill a small, though often profitable, niche of eco- or socially-conscious consumers. By in large, growth in those markets is defined by how much you can make people care (about the planet, about people, about pandas).

Green badge: Do Good, Buy Now!

There’s another class of companies, however, who may use green means, but who don’t rely on consumer sentiment about society or the environment to sell their stuff. Among these are many of the companies I have worked with in recent years, where the name of the game has been catalyzing massive new markets, primarily in the so-called base of the economic pyramid. While they used inclusive means to serve poor communities, these companies’ goals were those of growth-seeking, profit-oriented enterprises.

From the archives...

Preserving the local soil - Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice

“Every time a shaman dies, it is as if a library burned down.” - Mark J. Plotkin, PhD

Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice

The old caboclo woman stopped abruptly in her explanation of the plant in her hand and stared to the back of our group, at the tall, sun-browned, shirtless man who had just stepped into her garden.  “Ele é índio?” the old midwife asked excitedly, “ele entende muito de plantas, ervas, remédios?!” The newcomer had been just about to snap a photo of the scene but the force of old woman's reaction startled him into almost dropping his camera. He turned to my girlfriend Amber and I with a confused look, “What did she just say?” 

I chuckled out loud and translated for him while Amber explained to the old woman that no, our friend Kenny was neither a “native” nor from the jungle, that he was originally from Hong Kong and - as an energy trader on Wall Street – Kenny’s particular knowledge of stocks and plants probably wasn’t quite what the old woman was hoping for. The midwife’s mistake was easy enough to understand though: a dark brown, muscular man with long raven-black hair, Kenny looked like a piece of history stepping out of the jungle. In fact, most of the people we had met during our weeklong tour of riverside communities had made the same mistake about Kenny’s heritage.  What surprised me instead about the old midwife’s reaction was that even though practically a medicine woman herself - born and raised in the Amazon - she still seemed desperate to pump an outsider for his knowledge of local plants and medicines.