Exclusive: Priya Haji tells elephant readers why she sold World of Good to ebay.

Via on Mar 9, 2010

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Our fair-trade, fair-labor friends at World of Good just sold to ebay.

Given elephant’s long tradition of bemoaning “selling out to the Man,” and ebay’s conservative reputation, we were initially surprised. So we asked Priya Haji, the co-founder of World of Good: does “big” have to equal “bad?” What are your guarantees that eBay will protect the integrity and wonderful work that World of Good has begun? Because if ebay is devoted to protecting and growing World of Good, this sale could be the best thing for “enlightened society” that’s happened in a long time.

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Our editor, Waylon Lewis, asked World of Good CEO Priya Haji for her story on her successful sale last week to ebay: and we’re now honored to share this exclusive personal story re Priya’s sale of her wonderful company and what it means for creating a world of greater good. ~ CL

world of good ebay priya

Priya Haji, Co-Founder and CEO, World of Good:

When I set out to create World of Good, it was with the mission to help solve a big problem:

How do we increase wages and market opportunity for the billions of women living below the poverty line around the world?

We began by finding many endeavors around the world that were already helping these women create small, entrepreneurial businesses and cooperatives. As a first step, we made sure there were ethical systems in place for the artisans. Then, we set about to build a company that could open big markets because this was a big problem—but also a big opportunity: a large population of consumers were beginning to realize that their consumption was more than a passive acceptance—it was a form of action.

As we created a market for Fair Trade products through retailers like Whole Foods, Hallmark and Disney, we saw a growing opportunity for artisan women around the world.  Eventually, we met the team at eBay, a multi-billion-dollar online marketplace with millions of people connecting every day, and saw an opportunity to scale our mission to an unprecedented degree.

In partnership with eBay we launched WorldofGood.com, an online marketplace that would provide market access to socially and environmentally responsible producers and provide U.S. consumers with the product transparency necessary to make educated and responsible purchasing decisions. It was of utmost importance to scale the marketplace with integrity and to provide transparency so that consumers felt confident their purchases translated into the action they wanted to see in the world.

We built a verification system which brought together Transfair USA, World Fair Trade Organization, Green America and other like-minded organizations to ensure that every seller, producer or item sold on the site is verified to be good for people or the planet. We then invited hundreds of qualified sellers to join the marketplace, which now has tens of thousands of beautiful and unique products from around the world that  are eco- and socially-responsible.

During the two years of our partnership we witnessed eBay’s determination to use this platform and their immense reach as a force for good, and made the decision to focus our efforts and energy solely on WorldofGood.com. Before shifting our brand’s focus completely to e-commerce, we needed to ensure that all of our partnerships with mainstream retailers and our artisan groups would continue. We found the ideal partner in GreaterGood/Charity USA to acquire our wholesale division and incorporate all of work and relationships into its own Fair Trade wholesale business. It is clear to me and the World of Good leadership that in eBay and GreaterGood we have found partners with significantly more resources to elevate our work and mission to the next level and ultimately help many more people.

As a social entrepreneur, I am driven to create change in the world.  One of the challenges we social entrepreneurs face in using business to create social change is that some of us have been conditioned to believe that “big” means “bad.”

But our responsibility is to engineer ideas and organizations that can create big solutions to big problems without compromising the social mission with which the endeavor was started.  As entrepreneurs working to address large issues, we gain momentum and strength through partnership and connection.  World of Good cannot do alone what it can now do with the strength of a company like eBay.  Our endeavor now is to connect, educate and help shape the purchasing decisions of millions of Americans.  And if we are going to make the kind of change in the world we all dream of seeing, it will be through taking risks, trying new approaches, and growing big.

"world of good"

We first heard about the above sale via World of Good’s representative, Jill Primost. Her email contains some basic info about the sale that we thought relephant:

I wanted to share some exciting news with elephant. World of Good today announced that it has sold its brand and related assets to eBay.

A little background info: World of Good sees unprecedented opportunity to scale its impact through e-commerce (WorldofGood.com by eBay) and to help thousands of artisans in developing communities and environmentally responsible producers reach mainstream retail markets.

The stats: e-commerce sales in December 2009 climbed 17.7 percent year over year; eBay’s net income for the fourth quarter of 2009 climbed 9 percent over the same quarter a year ago; and revenue was up 16 percent from the year before—so the opportunity for scale is tremendous.

Jill Primost

Outreach and Public Relations Associate

WorldofGood.com by eBay

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PRESS RELEASE:

World of Good Inc. Sells Brand and Related Assets to eBay; Wholesale Division Acquired by GreaterGood/Charity USA

World of Good Brand Continues to Represent Sustainable Shopping and Market Access for Global Artisans Through E-Commerce

EMERYVILLE, Calif. – February 25, 2010 – World of Good Inc., a five-year-old social venture that connects artisans from developing communities with mainstream retail markets, announced today that eBay has fully acquired its brand and related assets. World of Good Inc. also announced that GreaterGood/Charity USA has acquired its wholesale division and line of designer, Fair Trade products which will be re-branded, while existing relationships with retailers and artisan partners will be maintained. The terms of the transactions were not disclosed.

eBay’s acquisition of the brand results from a two-year long collaboration between the two companies that led to the development of WorldofGood.com by eBay, the world’s largest multi-seller marketplace for socially and environmentally responsible shopping. The transaction reflects eBay’s growing commitment to engaging consumers to affect social change through sustainable commerce. It also represents World of Good’s commitment to creating the greatest market opportunity for small, Fair Trade and environmentally responsible producers around the world. The online marketplace hosts hundreds of sellers, with tens of thousands of sustainable products from 85 countries.

“We are excited about the opportunity to scale the World of Good mission to an unprecedented degree through eBay,” said World of Good co-founder and CEO Priya Haji. “Also, we are confident that GreaterGood will be an excellent steward of the retail partnerships we’ve built and will continue to grow Fair Trade through mainstream retail channels.”

GreaterGood’s acquisition of World of Good’s wholesale division reflects its growing Fair Trade business, including its Global Girlfriend apparel line. Since 2004, World of Good has developed extensive retail product lines for partners like Whole Foods Market, Hallmark and Disney, among others. GreaterGood will continue to work with the same retail partners and artisan groups in order to grow market access for small artisan suppliers around the globe.

World of Good was founded in 2004 by U.C. Berkeley’s Haas Graduate School of Business MBA’s Priya Haji and Siddharth Sanghvi with the mission to help small artisan producers improve their livelihoods by providing them with access to mainstream retail markets. The company has impacted more than 40,000 individual artisans across 70 countries by connecting them with millions of U.S. consumers. Haji also founded World of Good Development Organization, a sister non-profit focused on improving the lives of low-income women in the developing world. In December 2009, the Development Organization was honored by The Tech Museum of Innovation for its Fair Wage Guide, a free, open-source platform that calculates fair wages for artisans around the world and specific to their locations. The organization will continue its work to create technologies and tools that help companies ensure fair wages to informal sector workers.

Robert Chatwani, Director of eBay Global Citizenship said of the acquisition, “We look forward to this next step in our commitment to building an integrated, sustainable shopping experience within the eBay marketplace and are dedicated to applying our reach, resources and business model to create a positive impact for people, the planet and communities throughout the world.”

“GreaterGood is excited to grow the retail partnerships that World of Good built and to continue to help small artisan and Fair Trade producers reach these important retail channels,” said Stacey Edgar, founder and president of Global Girlfriend and director of the GreaterGood Wholesale Division.

About eBay:

Founded in 1995, eBay Inc. connects hundreds of millions of people around the world every day, empowering them to explore new opportunities and innovate together. eBay Inc. does this by providing the Internet platforms of choice for global commerce and payments. Building on this positive foundation, eBay’s sustainability efforts harness our technology and reach to extend this positive impact into vibrant, sustainable commerce experiences. Our sustainability portfolio includes WorldofGood.com, the eBay Green Team, the eBay Foundation, eBay Giving Works and MicroPlace.

About GreaterGood/Charity USA:

The GreaterGood Network of websites (including TheHungerSite, TheBreastCancerSite, TheAnimalRescueSite, Global Girlfriend, and others) offers the public a unique opportunity to support causes they care about through a free daily click and Gifts that Give More(tm) (100% of these donations go to the cause of the patron’s choice). The GreaterGood Network’s online stores offer more than 3,000 Fair Trade items, with up to 30% of the purchase price going to charity. In fiscal year 2009, the GreaterGood Network gave more than $3 million to more than 50 charities around the world.

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