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New to the Bend Venture Conference (BVC) this year was the addition of Social Impact Category carrying an investment of $250,000! These applicants were described as “for-profit Oregonian companies whose business models are integrated with a mission to have a significant and measurable social or environmental impact.” This addition by the BVC, now in its 13th year, is just another example of growth in the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) arena where consumers are driving demand for companies to not only work to turn a profit but to help bring positive changes to our world. BVC

Below is a brief description from the BVC Website of the finalists:

  1. Hemex Health (Portland, Ore.): Improves millions of lives in underserved countries by providing new diagnostics for malaria and sickle cell disease where there’s currently no viable test available.
  2. OpConnect (Portland, Ore.): Sells and operates smart electric vehicle charging stations.
  3. Sudara (Bend, Ore.): Designs and manufactures beautiful products in India, sold via e-commerce, creating jobs for survivors of sex-trafficking.
  4. TryECO (Portland, Ore.): Develops super absorbent polymers that are soil amendments and seed coatings, which increase crop yields with less water while improving soil tilth and biologics.

These four companies made their final pitch for the capital infusion last Thursday at the Tower Theater in front of a packed house. A common thread running through each presentation was the role of business in helping to address environmental and social needs.

We have written before about the impact of the local favorite, Sudara. Its founder, Shannon Keith, moved the minds and hearts of all those present with the vision of profitable businesses bringing about significant changes to help counter horrific injustices. In addition to having already succeeded in turning a profit and building communities and jobs in India as well as here in Bend, they have also helped 1000’s of women find a meaningful life after being rescued from sex slavery in India!

Congratulations to this year’s BVC Social Impact winner, Sudara!!!

Our company had a role in this process with my partner Ryan Andrews having been recruited by EDCO to serve as the manager for the social impact fund.

Ryan Andrews

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