THE BLOG

11,993 Miles ~ A Journey of Social Good

12/02/2013 05:21 pm ET | Updated Jan 31, 2014

Chris Akin and his twin brother Doug had tired of the conventional business world. They were half a world away from each other, Chris in Hawaii and Doug in New York, and they began conspiring change. The result was to start a company with social impact. Not social as in media but social as in social good. Each having experienced success in mainstream America, they set out to do something completely different. To change the business dynamic for those in developing countries and do something to create change economically in places without much opportunity. For these countries, the resources are limited, as are options.

In the brothers' mind the most likely resource would come from artisans in far, flung locales with upcycled goods, wearable goods. While on the journey to find the right product, they sourced from several different underdeveloped countries. Chris & Doug wore the sample products (bracelets) and asked opinions of friends and family. Ironically, the most interest sparked was not of the products they sourced, but a gift given to Chris by a friend long before. A bracelet. The only information they had on it was it came from Namibia. They journeyed to Africa to find the source and began their company, The Base Project. All told, 11,993 miles from Chris' home base of Hawaii.

The bracelets are unique, handcrafted, and upcycled. Literally, wearable art from Himba & Herera tribes in the Kunene region of northern Namibia. The artisan cooperatives provide one of a kind hand carved bracelets supporting their families and community.

When a provider is identified, the brothers go in and help the artisan set up a conventional business, set goals, determine how much production can be assimilated and when and how expansion should be executed. They're doing this with some of the oldest tribes in Africa. Bottom line for the brothers? To help the artisans with business skills they can use to further their lives. They also contribute to the communities with investments to help with basics like food, medicine, education and housing.

Fast forward to the end of 2013. The brothers were approached by TOM's , the provider of shoes (having given away 10 million) & broadcaster of social conscious, to be included in the first ever TOM's Marketplace. Tom's, a longtime social good concept has executed one of the most profound giving back philosophies in retail. They're currently in over 60 countries giving shoes and restoring eyesight with their One for One Movement. TOM's had been judiciously selective about who they contacted and who they choose to put in the Marketplace. In fact only 30 companies already involved in social good were selected to participate. What this means to the Akin brothers and The Base Project? Exposure they couldn't buy. Thrust into the limelight. Larger opportunities to give back to the communities their artisan's are in. Most importantly, it's an opportunity to expand The Base Project program to other needy communities faster. It's amazing the opportunities presented when you do social good. It goes Global.