Warby Parker - Making a difference in life and in business. / by Benjamin Steele

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Blog #36

703 million people currently live without access to eyewear. That's potentially 703 million people who are unable to live their lives with clear vision. For those of you who wear eyeglasses, you know how terrible this would be. In fact studies show that clear vision increases productivity by 35% and monthly income by 20%.

Warby Parker, the seven year-old glasses brand from New York City, is working to make a difference in our world's eyewear shortage.

We've all heard of the one for one business model and unfortunately sometimes it's been attached to negative stigmatism. Contrary to some people's thoughts, I personally believe the one for one model is the real deal.

For example, Warby Parker donates one pair of glasses for every pair they sell to non-profit organizations, who then distribute the frames to eye doctors in third-world countries, which are then sold at an ultra-discounted price to those in need.

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You may ask yourself why they sell the glasses to those in need rather than just giving them away? This is because some have observed negative outcomes of just giving things for free. People can become dependent. Arguably, selling them at a very low price can help more people. Just something to keep in mind.

Regardless, I believe that any model that makes a difference in other's lives is a good one.

TOMS shoes follows a similar pattern and has donated over 60 millions pairs of shoes to children around the world who otherwise wouldn't have any. Can I repeat...60 million pairs. To put that into perspective, that means that TOMS has given a generous 6,000,000 pairs of shoes to those in need every year since they were first founded. That's over 16,000 pairs of shoes a day. That's a lot of people who didn't have shoes before, but now do.

Now, I know some people have complained about TOMS doing this, saying that they have put the local cobblers out of business. For the most part, I disagree.

I believe that TOMS work has made a major difference and that it continues to do so.

As a result of some negative stigmatism, TOMS has recently begun to make many of their own shoes locally in the areas they are now distributed. Also, they have begun to give in other ways such as fresh water and safe birth.

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There are so many ways to give...and all people should.

My company, Sir Wylde, donates a percentage of all of our sales to TEAM RWB. Mission belts, donates some of their profits to Kiva, which generates micro-loans to aspiring entrepreneurs around the world. Better World Books, donates a book to those less privileged for every book sold on their site.

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Moral of the story, there are businesses making a difference out there and you need to be a part of it. If your business (or you personally) hasn't found a way to start giving back, I believe that you need to start. And don't leave the giving back to others because they have "more to give than you". Every little bit counts.

I often believe that a for profit business can do more good than a non-profit business. With a lot of profits, you can do a lot of good.

Yes, there is tax reductions, free publicity and good karma that comes from giving, but above all, it's just the right thing to do.

Thanks,

Ben

P.S. - Regardless where you are professionally, think of a way to start giving and serving. Comment to this blog post with some of the unique ways that you give back. I would love to hear your suggestions!