Since I heard him speak, I have not been able to forget about Whit Alexander’s story. He started at Microsoft as part of the team that gave the world Encarta World Atlas, then co-founded the smash-hit board game Cranium, and is now working on what I think is one of the most inspirational projects out there: Burro.
Burro is a socially conscious company founded out of Whit’s experiences at school and as a consultant in West Africa. His idea was to serve the needs of people in remote African villages via a sustainable business, not a charity or aid effort. His mission is to respect the poor and offer a way to support small-scale entrepreneurship, rather than pity them with handouts.
Burro provides rechargeable batteries to individuals in remote villages in Africa at half the cost of one-time use batteries. A usage fee means that fresh batteries will be constantly supplied to them. The batteries allow for lighting, power to an array of appliances, and for micro-entrepreneurs to cut the cost of running their businesses in these areas.
With Burro, Whit and his team have built a strong network of resellers and charging centers and are paving the way in social entrepreneurship. I encourage you to check out their site and read about Burro’s values: Respect, Innovate, and Empower. Burro is showing the world that social causes can be profitable and self-sustaining in a political climate that seems more and more willing to write aid checks.