BLOGS: Womble Carlyle Has Impact

Friday, May 29, 2015, 4:43 PM

Canada's LegWorks Helping Amputees in Developing Nations Lead Better Lives

LegWorks is an example of a public-private partnership advancing a business model that is a real quality-of-life breakthrough for the most vulnerable citizens in developing countries.

LegWorks produces a durable, affordable prosthetic leg for amputees. Recently, the company obtained $1 million in funding from private investors which was matched by the Canadian government. The LegWorks “All-Terrain Knee” was developed at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto.

Click here to read more on this public-private Impact Economy partnership.

Thursday, May 28, 2015, 10:27 AM

Wash Cycle Offers Clean Clothes to Customers, Clean Slate for Employees

Wash Cycle offers more than clean laundry delivered right to your front door. The Impact Economy start-up also offers new hope to people in need of a second chance.

Wash Cycle collects, cleans and delivers laundry using a team of orange-clad cyclists. Half of the company’s staff are people who were previously incarcerated, homeless or on welfare—groups that typically have trouble finding work. The company’s 80 percent employee retention rate shows that these workers are justifying their employers’ faith in them.

“I don’t think anyone here on our team would be in the laundry business if it were not for the impact we’re creating,” Wash Cycle co-founder Gabriel Mandujano tells Forbes.

The company launched in Philadelphia, and has expanded to Washington, D.C. and Austin, Tex. Wash Cycle now employs around 50 people, and its customer base has grown from residential deliveries to large-scale clients, including hospitals and universities.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015, 2:35 PM

The Vatican Joins the Impact Economy

The Impact Economy is seen as a cutting-edge concept. But even institutions as old and established as the Catholic Church are getting in on the action.

The Vatican is stepping up to back First, a Brazilian investment firm looking to raise that nation’s largest impact investing fund. Other investors include JPMorgan Chase and the World Bank.

The Catholic Church’s Oblate International Pastoral Investment Trust is investing approximately $7 million in the effort.  The move comes at a time when Pope Francis has made addressing global inequality a top priority. Like others, the Vatican is turning to for-profit businesses that promote social good.

Friday, May 22, 2015, 1:26 PM

The Impact of Impact: Socially Responsible Companies Outperform S&P 500

The numbers don’t lie—doing good is good business.

According to a new story by MarketWatch, companies on the MSCI KLD 400 (a list of socially responsible companies) has returned an average annual total return of 10.46 percent. By comparison, the S&P 500 has grown at a rate of 9.93 percent.

Not surprisingly, wealth managers are picking up on trend toward Impact investing. The creation of key performance metrics promises to help promote Impact investing.

“The mandate for greater disclosure has been cropping up,” Impact investing pioneer Amy Domani tells MarketWatch. “Creating standards and metrics that could grow into global standards just as we’ve seen in other areas like accounting, that can really change the game.”

Thursday, May 21, 2015, 12:30 PM

Catchafire Brings Good Talent, Good Causes Together

Looking for talented volunteers? Or a chance to showcase your skills in the nonprofit arena? Either way, Catchafire has you covered.

Catchafire is “a matchmaking service between talent and purpose,” said Catchafire founder Rachael Chong. The Impact company is an online service that helps match skilled professional volunteers with non-profit enterprises.  

The Catchafire Web site lists hundreds of volunteer projects, which have been vetted to ensure that they are of high quality. Prospective volunteers can post their resumes, apply to participate in projects and schedule interviews.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 11:25 AM

Fair Trade Coffee Company Brews Up Investors

Equal Exchange has proven that fair business can be good business. The Massachusetts-based company began 29 years ago and has grown to 130 employees and more than $60 million in annual sales.

Now, the company has raised more than $4 million in a stock sale. For investors, the Equal Exchange stock isn’t a get rich quick proposition. But it does provide a reliable dividend of around five percent annually.

In addition, investors see Equal Exchange as a way to promote positive change through capitalism.
“With the mission they’ve got and the values they’ve got, that’s a fantastic investment from my perspective,” said Blake Jones, Equal Exchange investor and CEO of Namaste Solar.

Equal Exchange began as a fair trade coffee company that paid a fair price to poor farmers in Nicaragua. Since then the company has expanded into other products, including tea, bananas and chocolate, while maintaining its mission to improve the quality of life for the people actually growing these foods.

Friday, May 1, 2015, 12:13 PM

Washington Post Spotlights Womble Carlyle Client Union Kitchen Grocery

The corner store is a staple of the urban landscape. But Union Kitchen Grocery founders Jonas Singer and Cullen Gilchrist think the corner store should offer healthier fare than just chips and candy bars.
So on May 4th, Singer and Gilchrist will open Union Kitchen Grocery at 538 Third St. NE in Washington, D.C. Union Kitchen will carry fresh produce and local products, giving neighborhood residents more and healthier food choices. The store grew out of the Union Kitchen food incubator focused on growing food businesses by providing members with the kitchen, catering opportunities, distribution services, access to partnered businesses, discounted vendors, marketing, and facility maintenance.
The Washington Post recently profiled Union Kitchen, and Singer and Gilchrist’s plans to expand the concept to other D.C. neighborhoods. Womble Carlyle’s Impact Economy Team is working with Union Kitchen to help the company achieve its business and social goals.

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