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CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

30 Entrepreneurs Who Are Saving the World

A look at 30 entrepreneurs who built successful businesses that were also driven by a social mission. Because, let's face it: There's more to life than simply making lots of money.
Clif Bar's Gary Erickson

Michael Sugrue

Clif Bar's Gary Erickson

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Lifesaver Davin Wedel launches Global Protection in 1988 to fight AIDS -- by making brightly colored condoms so cheerfully packaged that everyone would use them.

Bootstrapper Nick Gleason, founder of CitySoft, in Watertown, Massachusetts, battles inner-city poverty by recruiting from inner-city neighborhoods.

Think big In 1993, eco-friendly means niche. But Aaron Lamstein, CEO of the pet-products company WorldWise, gets his products on mass-market shelves, encouraging more consumers to go green.

It's on us Since 1989, Tom's of Maine has urged employees to spend 5 percent of their time volunteering.

Going upscale In 1998, Estuardo Porras retools his family's coffee plantation; providing fair wages and benefits helps land a deal with Starbucks.

(Not so) dirty diapers Jason and Kimberley Graham-Nye spot a new biodegradable diaper, snap up the rights, rename it gDiaper, and take on their landfill-clogging rivals.

Not just hot air In 2007, Enterprise Rent-A-Car CEO Andy Taylor begins offering renters carbon offsets -- for $1.25 extra.

Respect your elders Senior Whole Health cuts costs without sacrificing care, keeping elderly patients healthy -- and out of nursing homes.

Battle tested Randy Slager, founder of Catapult Technology, suffered a severe spinal cord injury while serving in the military. So, in 1998, he successfully lobbies for disabled vets to be added to the SBA's funding program for disadvantaged businesses.

Wanted: Captain Planet Clif Bar CEO Gary Erikson hires a full-time ecologist to reduce his business's carbon footprint.

Do it yourself Frustrated with b-schools' focus on shareholder returns, Gifford Pinchot founds the Bainbridge Graduate Institute in 2002 to offer socially responsible M.B.A.'s.

Mr. Mulch Burlington, Vermont -- based Gardeners' Supply collects and composts the city's leaves, grass clippings, and food scraps and gives the resulting mulch to farmers.

Return policy With its first catalog in 1984, Hanna Andersson offers a 20 percent discount to customers who send back a piece of used kid's clothing.

Take a chance In 1991, Just Desserts CEO Elliot Hoffman turns a corner of his bakery's backyard into a garden staffed by ex-cons; he later hires several as full-time bakers.

People, get ready David Cline, president of Balboa Instruments, launches a mentoring program to prepare at-risk kids for the working world.

Give it away When Charlie Crystle founds Mission Research in 2001, he donates a 20 percent stake to charity.

Helping hand Global crafts dealer Priya Haji gives 10 percent of profits to suppliers' communities, which have invested in clean water projects and computer labs.

Bottom line The nonprofit Greyston Foundation's mission is to create jobs for ex-cons and the homeless. Taking the reins in 1994, Charles G. Lief hits on a new solution: Start for-profit businesses.

Pass the plate Investors for socially conscious companies are hard to come by. So David Berge launches Underdog Ventures to seed the new crop of do-gooders.

Healthful alternatives After two decades in business, Seventh Generation has a simple message: Chemical-free products are better for the world.

Mom-in-chief Fran Rodgers starts a consulting firm, Work/Family Directions, to teach businesses how to manage employees' family needs.

Adopt-A-School Since 1999, John Wheeler, CEO of Rockford Construction, has ensured the kids at Henry Paideia Academy, a school in a tough part of Grand Rapids, Michigan, want for nothing.

The pen is mightier Office-products company Give Something Back donates more than half its profits to charity.

Focus After a 2001 visit to the Indonesian island of Sumba, Sean Downs, CEO of Enclarity, starts a foundation devoted to health care and humanitarian aid for the islanders.

Line of duty Linda Marroquin, CEO of FrogPad, donates her company's one-handed keyboards to soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Class act Actor Paul Newman doesn't need the money when he starts selling salad dressings in 1982. So he donates 100 percent of his after-tax profits.

All together, now In 1997, investor Gib Myers hits on a Silicon Valley solution to funding nonprofits: Local start-ups donate pre-IPO stock.

Thanks! In the '70s, Mel Zuckerman taps University of Arizona experts to help start Canyon Ranch. In 2000, he endows the school's College of Public Health.

Trailblazers Until coffeemaker Equal Exchange comes along in 1986, few have heard of fair trade.

Vision It's big business now,but alternative energy is just a do-it-yourself project when David Katz founds AEE Solar in 1979.

Last updated: Nov 1, 2009




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