By EHM Editor Jade McKenzie
i=Change has to be one of the best websites on the internet I've ever found. How excited would you be if you knew that you could go shopping for your favourite brands such as Nine West, Tigerlily, Cristina Re AND that a donation from every single sale goes towards various social causes?! Well, dream no more because thanks to Founder Jeremy Meltzer, it's now a reality.
Jeremy is a social entrepreneur and inspiring voice for women’s rights globally. He created i=Change to help accelerate the impact of extraordinary development projects, focused mostly on empowering women and girls. We were lucky enough to speak to him about i=Change and how you can work alongside them to support some truly incredible causes.
We would love for our readers to gain some insight into your vision at i=change and how this vision was born?
I=Change began as a simple idea at 3am one morning, over three years ago… What if brands gave back a small amount with every sale, and after checking out online their customers could choose where it goes, via a platform that pops up post-sale?
I found it troubling seeing many businesses try to communicate that they care, when it was clear their primary intention was marketing. I believed cause marketing could be done so much better. Many brands say, ‘we support x charity’. What does this mean? It can mean everything and nothing.
I wondered if we could help brands give back with complete transparency and authenticity, do so in real-time and engage their customers in this experience with every sale. This was the idea – as well as flipping the model so the brand gives back, rather than asking their customers to make the donation.
To test, we built an initial (clunky version) of the i=Change Platform, and added it to Yellingbo - our family’s olive oil site. After going live, the results were exciting. Sales increased over 6%. Social media flowed. We received great feedback from customers.
Could this be built into an independent solution for other online retailers, so they could give back as well and reap the benefits of doing so? I knew the majority of consumers - over 77% in Australia - prefer to buy from brands that give back. We just had to build a plug-&-play solution that was simple and powerful.
Simple, right? This began a long journey to where we are today…
How would you define “making a positive impact” and how are these ideas carried through in the projects you’re involved in?
We’re very committed to the empowerment of women and girls. I recently returned from Rwanda, and was deeply impressed to see how women and girls have re-built their nation after the Rwandan genocide. For example, there are now more women in the Rwandan parliament than any other nation on earth.
Women and girls have been held back for centuries. At i=Change, we plan to play a very active role in channeling the new funds we’re raising into helping build a more equitable world. So the majority of projects we support focus on unleashing the potential of women and girls.
We do support other projects. Although, when as donors we invest in women and girls, entire communities benefit. This has been proven over and over again. There’s simply a higher social return on the donor dollar.
We believe this commitment is one of the most powerful ways we can create a positive impact.
We love that big and small brands are on board with your vision. How important do you find strong brand relationships are in reaching your goals?
We try and create strong, meaningful relationships with our brand partners. They’re ‘early adopters’ who understand the value - and that giving back and social enterprise, as a powerful, fast-growing movement is only just beginning. As such, these brands also stand to benefit most.
Strong relationships are key. We’ve made mistakes. Good relationships help these to be forgiven, especially when your partners know this is all done in the spirit of improving and learning and trying to build a better product.
We have large global brands like Nine West onboard, as well as smaller start-ups. Regardless of their size, they all give back with each sale. I’m very moved by their commitment. We may have built the eco-system that enables them to do this simply, yet it’s their commitment that makes it all possible. I think this is amazing.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PROJECTS YOU HAVE UNDERWAY CURRENTLY AND HOW CAN PEOPLE GET INVOLVED ALONG SIDE TO CREATE A POSITIVE IMPACT?
We do significant due diligence on the projects we support. We want to make sure the dollars raised make the greatest impact possible.
For example, I’m a big fan of Adara Development. The funds we donate to Adara directly help prevent Nepalese girls being trafficked from Nepal. We donate 100% of funds raised, (as does Adara), and know they use this to make the greatest impact possible.
People can support these life-changing issues by simply shopping with these brands. They give back from every sale via the i=Change platform that pops up after checking out. From three projects, customers get to choose where to send the brand’s donation.
We’d love to know how has i=Change worked with events in the past and how can people organizing their own events utilize your services?
The most powerful event we hosted was when we brought together Adara and the online retailer, Esther. The power of storytelling is enormous. Audette , Adara’s founder, shared how it would take 10 years to rebuild Kathmandu after the earthquake in 2015. There were tears and a powerful sense of gratitude. Esther deeply understood how their business was changing lives. Adara knew they’d be able to make an even greater impact.
I’ve also shared our story as a speaker at many functions and events. I’m very moved by how this seems to inspire others to find and follow their purpose, to live with passion and, where possible; begin using their business as a ‘force for good’. I’m always open to sharing the i=Change story.
If people are selling tickets online to events, they could also partner with us to give back and engage their customers in a meaningful, memorable experience after every sale.
All I can say is PLEASE get on board. What an incredible platform, with such wonderful causes and organisations to support. Get shopping here.
Photo credit belongs to i=Change