Taking the FASHION WORLD by (Social Enterprise) Storm!

Posted: July 20, 2011 by Matt in Uncategorized

As an MBA candidate interested in leveraging the fashion industry as a platform for social innovation and committed to using education as a tool to break the cycle of systemic poverty, I’m spending my summer working with an inspiring nonprofit organization, as well as co-founding a social enterprise…

First, let me tell you about Indego Africa (“Indego”), a nonprofit social enterprise that really has taken the fashion world by storm. Indego takes a market-driven, fashion-forward approach to empowering African women by: partnering with cooperatives of female artisans in Rwanda on a fair trade basis; selling their stylish hand-crafted products on Indego’s online store and at more than 70 U.S. retailers, like Anthropologie, shopbop.com, and Ralph Lauren; and then investing 100% of its profits from sales and donations into its ground-breaking training programs in business management, entrepreneurship, literacy, and technology.

Indego was founded by  Matt Mitro, who built the organization with college friend Ben Stone, now President & CEO – both former corporate lawyers and self-described “fashion-challenged dorks.” Yes, you read correctly. Four short years later, Indego is recognized as one of the “go-to” nonprofit partners for established designers and retailers, like Nicole Miller and DANNIJO. I’ve had the opportunity to attend sales meetings with major U.S. retailers – retailers that I LOVE – and needless to say, there are some very big partnerships on the horizon for Indego.

In my opinion, Indego has reached the critical point where it is beginning the transition from start-up to sustainable nonprofit. The tremendous amount of work, dedication, and passion that this team demonstrates has blown me away, my fellow intern Ryan Williams, from NYU Law, put it best when he said that he was, “humbled and honored to be part of such a dynamic and dedicated group.” At Indego, the passion for the social mission is at the heart of everything we do.

For now, it’s back to fabric sourcing, retail strategy, and preparing for the week’s networking events. I should mention that Indego has turned networking into an art-form, and as a result, I’ve had the chance to attend some pretty amazing events this summer:  The Global Leaders World Innovation Evening, where our CEO was recognized as a Future Global Leader, African Fashion Week New York, and 85 Broads events, including a JAM session featuring Matt and Ben, just to name a few. It is easy to see why Indego has been successful in building a cult-like following, they are everywhere and people can’t help but to be drawn to the social enterprise story.

…More to come on my experience co-founding REVIVAL Style, an apparel line that blends high style with high social impact, and proves that looking good and doing good don’t have to be mutually exclusive! (I’ll save that for next time)

Wishing you all the best,

Allie

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