There are so many moments lately when it feels like the world is torn: there are natural disasters, political crises, major human rights violations, and more. Businesses and banks are in the news for being corrupt and leaders are accused of horrible actions against employees. Despite all this, there are many leaders who are doing good for the world and growing their companies in ways that are commendable and inspiring. Here are 9 individuals who have devoted their business and their brands to changing the world. These innovators serve as an inspiration and model for how all business can give and make a difference. It's time to measure profits differently and consider people and the planet just as much as the bottom line.
1. Jacques Panis - Shinola
As president of upscale watch company Shinola, Jacques Panis led the brand to become an industry legend known for standing out and giving back. Shinola started in the place where most people would never expect a luxury watchmaker: Detroit. Fueled by a mission to hire locally and create jobs in the United States, Shinola has brought inspiration and opportunity to America's manufacturing heartland. Today, Shinola is so much more than a watch company, selling leather goods, bicycles and even turntables and speakers -- and will be opening a hotel in downtown Detroit in fall 2018.
2. Seth Cohen
Seth Cohen is the Senior Director of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Both he and the organization have a strong belief in fostering a sense of community rooted in inclusion, equality, and diversity - and have a deep desire to help "repair the world" (or in Hebrew, tikkun olam). Seth helps lead the Foundation's efforts to identify, connect and support global networks of young Jewish and non-Jewish adults and enable them to create experiences and communities for themselves and their peers. Seth is a committed activist and previously worked for 13 years as a nationally recognized Atlanta-based corporate attorney. He has received recognition for his commitment to pro bono legal services, including his work as one of the lead attorneys in a successful federal civil rights lawsuit protecting the voting rights of Georgia citizens.
3. Abhilash Patel
Abhilash Patel is a serial entrepreneur, venture investor, speaker, author, and business advisor. He is founder and CEO of Lotus Capital in Los Angeles, and he was previously the founder of RankLab and co-founder of Recovery Brands where he saw both companies through a joint acquisition in 2015. Abhilash has put his position as a leader to good use by being an active participant and donor to many charities. He is on the board at both LA Regional Food Bank and Junior Achievement along with being a pillar of support at Rape Treatment Center, Clare Foundation, 10000 Beds, and Methodist Preschool.
4. Erika Olde
At only 25-years-old, award-winning producer and founder of Black Bicycle Entertainment, Erika Olde is one of the youngest and most successful women in Hollywood. She refuses to let her age hold her back and emphasizes the importance of using her skills and expertise to help others. Her recent work includes Hallie Meyers-Shyer's Home Again, starring Reese Witherspoon, Susanna White's Woman Walks Ahead, starring Jessica Chastain, and Whitney Cumming's The Female Brain. Olde is also a passionate global advocate for the advancement of women and gender equality and a TiFF Share Her Journey Ambassador. As the co-founder of the IRIS-IN program for girls in partnership with the Ghetto Film School,, Olde is nurturing the next generation of diverse women to tell the silver screen's greatest stories.
5. Ibrahim AlHusseini
Ibrahim AlHusseini thinks big. The founder and managing partner of the FullCycle Energy fund doesn't just focus on small problems: he harnesses new technology to solve global crises. As the winner of a Global Green Millennium Award for his efforts to combat climate change, AlHusseini only does impact investing. On top of that, his initiatives in modern gasification - the process of turning waste into useable electricity - are poised to solve the world's garbage crisis. AlHusseini concurrently manages his family office, The Husseini Group LLC, in Los Angeles, which has over a decade of funding ventures that embrace social enhancement and ecological sustainability. Equally passionate about gender equality and the arts, AlHusseini supports several NGOs advancing social and cultural change in societies that adversely impact women and girls.
6. Lola Melani
Acclaimed celebrity photographer Lola Melani often speaks about her journey from immigrant to becoming one of the world's leading photographers and how we can all make a difference in our work. She is known for her elegant and intimate portraits, which have been featured in media worldwide. Melani specializes in maternity, newborn and boudoir photography, and her style blends editorial, fashion and fine art portraits. She also curates masterclass seminars, mentoring fellow photographers on how to find their own style and take their art form and businesses to the next level. In 2017, Lola founded The Lola Melani Fund, her charity that supports mothers, caregivers, and their families worldwide who have experienced life-altering challenges.
7. Brent Willis
CEO of New Age Beverage Corporation based in Denver, CO, Brent Willis not only seeks to bring all-natural and organic healthy beverages to consumers, but he literally puts his money where his mouth is in living out this commitment. Among the beverage offerings in the New Age product line which include teas, energy drinks, coconut waters and more is the WATERisLIFE.com brand pH balanced water, of which 100% of the profits from sales are donated directly to end the world water crisis. The bottles clearly states, "You hydrate, we donate."
8. Ryan Patel
Ryan Patel has been vital in providing valuable strategy and leadership in developing domestic and international growth plans with some of the world's most innovative companies including Wet Seal Retail, Inc. (Arden B and Wet Seal), Jamba Juice, BJ's Restaurants, Inc. and Panda Restaurant Group Inc. (Panda Express). Ryan served as Vice President of Global Development for Pinkberry, one of the fastest growing retail brands globally during his tenure. Patel is a firm believer in giving back to the community and serves as on the American Red Cross Board of Directors in Los Angeles, CA. He is also on the board of advisors for GIVN Goods Inc. and Communities for Cause Inc.
9. Katie Hoffman
Katie Hoffman is Co-Founder and CEO of Resco, LLC; a firm focused on financial innovation and social good. Katie has always focused on growth areas that can move the needle for the causes she cares most about. Earlier in her career, Katie played an integral role in the passing of policies that influenced the University of California, CalPERS, and CalSTRS, shifting billions of dollars toward sustainable investments.
Before Resco, Katie was a managing partner at Etho Capital; an asset management company focused on building sustainable ETFs and other investment products. She was an Entrepreneur in Residence at the California Clean Energy Fund, where she explored investment opportunities to accelerate the shift to 100% clean energy and is co-chair of the Nexus Global Energy Innovation and Environment Group and a trustee of the American Renewable Energy Institute, mobilizing the next generation of impact investors and philanthropists.