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The Social Entrepreneurs | An Interview with Ann Wang & Jessica Willison, Founders of Enrou

Friends Ann Wang and Jessica Willison are the co-founders of Enrou, an online marketplace for one-of-a-kind, handmade goods that empower developing communities around the world.  Though the two come from very different backgrounds (Ann international development and Jess fashion & e-commerce) , through Enrou, they’ve found a way to blend their skills into one similar passion. Now, they’re on a mission to improve the world by changing the way people shop.

The name Enrou stems from “enroute’ and is short the company’s mission to get people on the way to change. Their vision in building Enrou was to develop a marketplace where every purchase creates opportunity. When you shop the site, you’ll find products handcrafted by artisans in developing countries around the world. When you make a purchase, not only do you receive the product but with it the story of how it was crafted. The aim is that the sharing of these stories will create a more personal connection and authentic buying experience.

Your purchase directly impacts the person who made the product by providing him or her with skilled work, income and job training. Further extending the impact of your purchase is the reach it has on the communities where the brands are based. Each purchase helps these brands support on-the-ground initiatives like women’s empowerment, job training, and health education.

In a world where it seems that our social feeds are too often filled with stories of consumerism gone wrong, Ann and Jess have forged away for conscious consumers to pick a new path.  By channeling our everyday purchases into purposeful investments, their goal is to redefine consumerism by making the global market one brimming with opportunity — for all.

To find out more about the building of Enrou, I met Ann and Jess at Cafe Gratitude in Venice. Cafe Gratitude is a plant-based LA favorite where you can stop in for organic vegan fair along with a side of self reflection. With dishes named after motivational mantras like I am terrific you’re sure to leave full in every sense of the word. 

More About Ann & Jess

enrouAnn Wang is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Enrou.  Before co-founding Enrou, Wang studied International Development at UCLA. She has been dedicated to global social justice through her tenure at UCLA and beyond. She also worked in the Alumni Scholarships Program and the UCLA Volunteer Center, where she contributed to the Social Media & Marketing Internship Program, sharing her passions for technology and community service.

Jessica Willison is co-founder and chief communication officer of Enrou. Prior to Enrou, Jessica was a communication studies student at UCLA and an editorial intern for the fashion website Refinery29.

The two graduated from UCLA in the Class of ’13. The seeds for Enrou were planted in their final year of school together. Together they bootstrapped with their own savings to get their budding business off the ground. They’ve since gone on to compete and win Forbes Pressure Cooker Contest at the annual 30 Under 30 Summit which awarded them $400K in prize money.

What is Enrou?

Enrou is a central marketplace for one-of-a-kind, handmade goods that empower developing communities around the world. Through the power of trade, Enrou is helping to create sustainable change within global communities and to end the cycle of poverty through small-business and community development.

When you shop Enrou, you empower the community where the product was made. This happens through our dual-impact model — every Enrou product helps reduce global poverty in two distinct and powerful ways.

The first impact is the direct investment in the person who made your product — your purchase provides him or her with dignified work, as well as an income and job training.

The second impact is in the community where your product was made — your purchase supports development initiatives on the ground, such as health education and women’s empowerment programs. These initiatives help improve quality of life for the people today and their future generations.

By channeling everyday purchases into purposeful investments, we are redefining consumerism and making the global market a better market, one brimming with opportunity — for all.  (Source: Enrou)

Check out Enrou at:

Web: enrou.com

Instagram: @enrou_

Twitter: @enrou_

Facebook: facebook.com/enrou.co

Pinterest: pinterest.com/enrou/

A Toast to you and Anne & Jess too,

Jen

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