You don’t have to turn into a green monster or wear a cape to be a superhero. It’s true.
The following Nashville social enterprise entrepreneurs are using business to be the superhero in the lives of people who are in need of help.
If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know I love to use business to fund charities and also profile others who are doing the same.
Please visit theirs sites as they are all doing really cool things here in Nashville.
Patrick Woodyard truly understands much about the value of life and the world he lives in. His visionary spirit is evident in the founding and building of a shoe business with quality products being made in remote areas of other lands. His ability to discover and utilize these products is unique. He and co-founding partner Nick Meyer share the same spirit of wanting to help others. Together, their compassion for other people is illustrated by their generous reinvestment into those who craft quality shoes. Helping Peruvians and others to truly improve their lives and their financial condition proves that someone can be financially successful, innovative, and philanthropic in the 21st century
While preparing to go on a trip to Africa nearly 10 years ago, Barrett Ward began to understand some of the desperate wickedness and poverty that existed in many nations there. He learned about the misuse of women and made the decision that he was going to make a difference even though it seemed hopeless. After teaming up with relief ministries already in place, he began providing work for impoverished African women who had been salvaged from horrible lives and helping them establish themselves as respectable citizens.
Photo by: www.theinfluenceconference.com
Kyle McCollum founded Triple Threads in 2010 while a junior at Vanderbilt. While brainstorming about what could be done about convicted felons looking for employment and the ability to make a better life as they re-entered society, Kyle and some friends from school gave birth to this screen printing business. While providing employment for members of a half-way house, Triple Threads also recognized the need to go beyond telling people how to live. Their goal is to give the training, the initiative, and the confidence it takes that past mistakes can be overcome. He is also the co-founder of Everly products.
Everly was co-founded by Kyle McCollom (pictured above) and Chris Cole. These two young men with vastly different experiences both related to nutritional hydration joined forces to create an alternative to the health beverage mania. Their paths to the idea were quite different, but by using skills they learned while working together as college students and maintaining that previously successful business relationship, Kyle and Chris proved that an idea can become reality with determination despite the age or experience of the dreamer.
John Gonas founded Spring Back to assist in the ever growing demand to recycle products that are no longer used or needed. Landfills do not like to take mattresses because they take years to decompose and absorb hazardous materials from their surroundings. John has partnered with two Nashville area ministries to provide this mattress recycling service to the community, but he also provides employment for former prisoners who are looking to reverse their previous course in life. His business model is unique in that it is environmentally friendly and diligently seeking to help those with a troubled history.
Trevor Burbank’s love for people, especially children, is evident by his double major at Vanderbilt. Human and organizational development and child studies is not the type of study one pursues when anticipating six figure salaries. That seems to be just fine with Trevor. His pursuit of pursuing children’s books with international characters and themes for the purpose of giving back to the countries they describe is an unusual aspiration for anyone. He will probably never meet most of the people he touches, but his motives are based on making their lives better.
Michael and Dawn Cornelius have proven that hard work and dedication are still at the heart of entrepreneurial vision. Dawn’s difficult past has not slowed her drive to succeed, but that desire combined with the efforts of her husband’s have brought to reality a successful internet business and traditional physical location from which to sell their goods. They have illustrated what can be accomplished despite the many economic negatives. In addition, their commitment is to share profits with organizations who try to help erase poverty, provide education, and encourage better agriculture practices in third world nations.
Sam Davidson and Stephen Moseley co-founded Cool People Care. Originally, their idea was to help people live with a purpose. Since its inception, Cool People Care has shared thousands of ideas with people to encourage and equip them to change their world. Sam speaks about leadership, service, and business principles on college campuses and to non-profit groups. He and Stephen also offer t-shirts and printed material with inspirational and socially-responsible slogans to help with various charities and special causes. Their plan is not just to have a good reputation, but they desire to challenge people to join together to make a difference in their world.
Tasha A. French Lemley has worked as an outreach worker to homeless people along with her many years of experience working in publications. She also has photographed and interviewed many in Nashville’s homeless population. With these experiences, Tasha understands the needs of those who have many needs. Her paper is appropriately named as she is attempting to make huge contributions to the homeless community not just now but into the future. Her desire to make a difference in Nashville pushes her toward the day when the homeless population is non-existent.
Brian Hicks is the executive director of a multi-directional ministry known as Harvest Hands in South Nashville. WOW soaps and Humphreys Street Coffee Company are two heads attached to this community friendly group. They have determined to provide products that are all-natural. Coffee and soap are obviously items that are in great demand. By providing useful products that are not age-targeted, Harvest Hands does not have to promote something unique. Also, while offering everyday items, they are reaching people in troubled neighborhoods and training them with a skill and the opportunity for income. Brian’s people see the big picture of community impact.
A successful entrepreneur even before she started Philanthropy, Christina Martin has successfully turned this local fashion boutique into an outreach tool. Vowing to give ten percent of her profits to needy people groups, Christina supports non-profit groups in the Caribbean, East Africa, and the United States. Her desire to provide a product that is fashionable combined with her compassion for the needs of the less fortunate truly classify her as someone who understands philanthropy.
Red Earth Trading Co., founded by Travis Gravette, began with the idea of creating life changing yet fashionable items. The people of East Africa amazed him with their ability and creativity. While trying to help them overcome the difficulties of an inconsistent market for their goods, he realized the work they did deserved reward. This issue, in addition to trying to help people have better communities, prompted him to create this company. The people are given a market for their goods and the profits are put back into nonprofit organizations that are working to improve the overall conditions of the region.
Wayne Elsey took major action after two major catastrophes, and when he saw what could be accomplished, he began Soles4Souls. While watching coverage of a major tsunami, Wayne was not content to wish he could make a difference, he simply tried to make a difference. He made some calls to footwear executives and began to reach out to folks in need. His company created jobs in Tennessee and Alabama, and they have donated nearly 20 million shoes to those in need. The unusable shoes, which are about one percent of what is received, are used for renewable energy products as well.
Becca Stephens has been a busy lady. Thistle Farms is only one of the many ventures she is involved in. However, her involvement is far from basic. Her impact includes job creation and reaching out to individuals whose lives have been problematic. By serving women from harsh backgrounds, Thistle Farms and its companion Magdalene Farms assist women in regaining respect and encouraging them to begin life with fresh vigor. Becca has received numerous accolades locally, statewide, and nationally.
Richard W. Gygi and Tres Scheibe founded ThriftSmart, America’s first franchised thrift store, in 2004 in Franklin. Both of these men bring a wealth of business experience from a vast array of businesses of all sizes. Both men started successful businesses on their own before joining forces in this new and unusual adventure. Job creation, support of local ministries, affordable shopping opportunities, and serving those who are rarely if ever served are important goals. ThriftSmart accomplishes many tasks and assists the lives of many people by gathering and selling items that are in great abundance.