Meet three social entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurialism is broadly defined as a commercial business that simultaneously aims to address social or environmental problems.

Indigo & Iris – Using beauty to beat blindness

Bonnie Howland, founder of Indigo & Iris, is in the process of creating a high-quality organic mascara.

Through a partnership with the Fred Hollows Foundation, profits from every purchase will go towards restoring someone’s eyesight in the Pacific Islands.

Only 18-years-old, she says the learning curve for her venture has been intense but exciting.

‘My product has to be viable and sustainable. For every four mascara sold, one person’s eyesight will be restored,’ she says.

From coming up with a mascara recipe to developing a working price point - not to mention finding packing companies and contract manufacturers - she says her mentors are proving invaluable.

Howland believes her product will be on the shelves within six months.

To get to where she is now, she says customer research was key and she held over 100 interviews with women about mascara.

‘If I truly want to change lives, it has to be an amazing product. It has to be up to scratch with the major beauty lines…It’s not right that so many people are living with treatable blindness. My product will help fix that problem.’

TAO – A hands-on approach to health

Co-founder of TAO Nedra Fu says in five years she wants to see as many people practicing traditional Chinese medicine as they do yoga.

While the commercial aspect is a contributing factor, she says her primary motivation is to make people healthier – what she sees as a social problem.

A picture of two women taking.

‘It’s a workplace wellness programme that is designed to empower office workers so that they can take care of their own health and well-being,’ she says.

While the commercial aspect is a contributing factor, she says her primary motivation is to make people healthier – what she sees as a social problem.

‘Through an eight-week course, which we’re currently trialing at a few organisations, participants can learn simple and effective practices like pressure point massage.’

Fu and her business partner have set a year-end goal of running the programme in 10 organisations in Wellington and have a future plan to franchise the model through a partnership-type model.

Evergreen Music – How Kiwi musos can cut through the noise

Nick George of Evergreen Music wants to give exposure to New Zealand artists through retail environments, while also offering a service that ensures the accuracy of royalty distributions.

George, a musician, says the idea came to him after returning home from tour and going into a major supermarket where popular overseas artists were playing.

The moment highlighted how difficult it was for Kiwi artists to get exposure in their own country.

A picture of a man sitting relaxing.As someone who depended on royalties himself, it also pointed out how difficult it was for royalty distributions to be accurately measured.

‘There’s no real way for One Music (the agency that collects music licensing dues from retail environments) to really know what artists should be paid what,’ he says.

‘The value proposition is that shops are already paying this annual fee. At no extra cost, I’m providing a service for them. They’ll be supporting local artists and One Music will know exactly who should get paid what.’

George is currently testing his business model in select locations and believes retail environments that use Evergreen Music will eventually carry a stamp like the one used on Fair Trade products, the difference being that this stamp would show their commitment to supporting New Zealand artists.

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