Business: Free the Children
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Free The Children’s mission is to create a world where all young people are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change. The organization was founded by Craig Kielburger in 1995 when he gathered 11 school friends to begin fighting child labour. At the time, he was just 12 years old. This is his story:

One morning, Craig flipped through a newspaper in search of the comics and came across an article about a courageous boy named Iqbal. Iqbal Masih was born in South Asia and sold into slavery at the age of four. In his short life, he had spent six years chained to a carpet-weaving loom. Iqbal captured the world’s attention by speaking out for children’s rights. Eventually, Iqbal’s wide media coverage caught the attention of those who wished to silence him. At 12, Iqbal lost his life defending the rights of children.

What Craig learned from Iqbal’s story was that the bravest voice can live in the smallest body. This inspired Craig to do something to help other children like Iqbal. He gathered together a small group of his seventh-grade classmates and started an organization called Free The Children.

Free the children from poverty.
Free the children from exploitation.
Free the children from the notion that they are powerless to effect change.

Those are the messages that sparked Craig’s passion, and continue to fuel the mission of the organization today. Every day, the movement grows and every day more young people are free to achieve their fullest potential.

Today, Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner, with more than 2.3 million youth involved in our innovative education and development programs. Since its inception, Free The Children has worked in more than 45 countries.

Do you want to raise money like Craig did to help kids in need? If so, join One Hen’s Pledge Your Profit Challenge to smart a small business and donate your profits to the cause you care most about.

Business: ManCans Candle Company
Location: Marysville, Ohio

At just 13-years old, Hart Main founded ManCans a company that makes manly-scented candles in recycled soup cans. ManCans is now over four years old is continuing to grow under Hart’s guidance and inspiration.

How he came up with his business idea: Main’s 12-year-old sister was selling candles for a school fundraiser, and he teased her about the girly scents, telling her it would be cool if there were “men-scented” candles: “I thought, grass, bacon, sawdust, leather,” he says.

What inspired him: “It started out as a joke,” Main says. “My sister really didn’t think I would do anything.” But to prove he was serious, Main put $100 of his own money into the endeavor, and his parents put in about $200–with one stipulation: If he wasn’t able to pay them back with money earned from the candle business, Main would have to reimburse them from his paper route earnings. Main admits he was also motivated because he wanted a road bike for triathlons (which he purchased within a month of selling ManCans).

What’s that smell? Current offerings of ManCans include Sawdust, Coffee, Fresh Cut Grass, Campfire, Bacon, Grandpa’s Pipe, New Mitt, New York Style Pizza and Dirt. New scents are created mostly by request, Main says–and there have been some odd ones, like cow manure (when asked if he’s going to oblige, Main replies, “Um, no.”), and steak or meat scents.

Customers: Typically adults, and split pretty evenly between men and women. Most wholesale orders come from mom-and-pop stores. “All different kinds,” Main says. “One’s a shoe store, one’s an auto garage.”

Marketing: “I started out in Marysville by walking into stores and just saying, “I made these candles, can you carry them in your store for consignment?’ Main says. “A lot of them did.” Main heard no plenty of times, but still got his product into a few local stores, as well as 60 others across the country. Most sales, he says, are made on

Giving back: Main and his family buy full soup cans from the grocery store and take them to soup kitchens to be served. About two weeks later, they get back the empty cans to use for the candles.

Do you want to start a business like Hart did and raise money to help people in need? If so, join One Hen’s microfinance to smart a small business and donate your profits to the cause you care most about.

Business: Health food store
Location: Kampala, Uganda

As the single mother of eleven children, Justine struggled to put food on the table. After her sister died of an AIDS-related illness, Justine also began caring for three of her orphaned nieces and nephews. In addition to feeding and clothing her family, Justine was responsible for paying school fees for all 14 children.

Fortunately, in 2002, Justine met with Opportunity International, an organization that provides small business loans, savings, insurance and training to more than five million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world. Opportunity International gave Justine a loan that enabled her to transform her backyard into a pig farm. After buying the first two pigs, Justine worked hard and used her profits to grow the business. In time, Justine’s farm expanded to include 40 pigs, a flock of chickens, and a small retail store.

Want to help people like Justine by starting your own business? Join One Hen’s Pledge Your Profit Campaign and read more about how microfinance has helped millions of people improve their lives.

Business: Bicycle shop
Location: Manaus, Brazil

After a tough childhood, Erivan dos Santos realized one day that he needed to change his life. He took a low-paying job in construction and met a woman who would become his wife. A year later they had a baby boy, but as luck would have it, he was born with serious health issues. It was then that Erivan decided he would turn to self employment to stay afloat, and so his brother taught him how to repair bicycles and gave him a few tools and equipment to help him start a bicycle shop. “My life changed since we opened this store,” he says, looking around his small shop situated just outside of his father’s house, where he and his family also live.

“The beginning was difficult,” he says. “Sometimes we did not have enough money to buy food, and I struggled to get much needed capital. Since I couldn’t ask my father for more, I was glad to hear that Accion Microfinancas helped entrepreneurs like me. ”

Since receiving an initial loan of US $800 from Accion’s partner in Brazil, Erivan has been able to buy supplies and merchandise in bulk, helping him to service clients faster and make larger profits. Today, he is proud and thankful that both his business and family are thriving.

If you look closely at the front of Erivan’s store, you’ll see the following phrase:

Os que com lágrimas semeiam com júbilo ceifarão. (Those who sow in tears shall harvest joy.)

Erivan’s hard work as an entrepreneur has enabled him to harvest joy and sow a successful future for his family.

Do you want to raise money to support poverty reduction and help entrepreneurs like Erivan? If so, join One Hen’s Pledge Your Profit Challenge to smart a small business and donate your profits to the cause you care most about.

Business: Ryan’s Well Foundation
Location: Ontario, Canada

When he was just seven years old, Ryan got inspired to help people in Africa access clean, safe water. After raising money to build a well in Uganda, Ryan started a foundation to continue helping people. He then went to college to study international development and political science. Ryan now uses his experience and passion to speak to people around the world about the importance of safe water supplies.

This is his story:
“One day in January 1998, I was sitting in my Grade One classroom. My teacher, Mrs. Prest, explained that people were sick and some were even dying because they didn’t have clean water. She told us that some people walked for hours in Africa and sometimes it was just to get dirty water.

All I had to do was take 10 steps from my classroom to get to the drinking fountain and I had clean water. Before that day in school, I figured everyone lived like me. When I found out this wasn’t the case, I decided I had to do something about it. So, I went home and begged my mom and dad to help. After a few days, they told me I could do extra chores to earn the $70 I thought would build a well. I thought that’s all it would take to solve the world’s water problem. I worked for four months to earn my first $70. Then I learned that it was actually going to cost $2,000 to build a well in a place like Uganda. I also learned that the problem was way bigger than I realized.

I started speaking to service clubs, school classes, to anyone who would listen to my story so that I could raise money for my first well at Angolo Primary School in Uganda. That’s how my little Grade One project became the Ryan’s Well Foundation.

My advice to anyone is that in order to make a positive change in the world, you need to find something you are passionate about and then you need to take steps to act. For me, the issue is water and sanitation.

Water is essential to all life. “I hope my story is a reminder that we can all make a difference – it applies to each and every one of us.”

Do you want to start a business like Hart did and raise money to help people in need? If so, join One Hen’s microfinance to smart a small business and donate your profits to the cause you care most about.

Business: Electronics Salesman
Location: Colombia

A guerilla war in rural Colombia drove Federico Rodriguez Bastos out of his hometown, forcing him to leave behind his only asset – his land. Fearing for his life, Federico feels he can never return to the only home he has ever known. Faced with the likelihood of poverty as he moved his family to the city, he knew he must act to ensure his family’s survival. Combining his carpentry skills and his innate entrepreneurial spirit, Federico obtained a loan from Opportunity International to launch a woodworking shop where he manufactures curtain rods and fixtures.

Today, Federico operates a thriving business and always credits his Opportunity loan officer, whom he refers to as his “business partner”, for his tremendous success. When he and his wife look back on the home they left behind, they reflect with gratitude on the new life they have built with their own hands and a little help from Opportunity Colombia. While they have experienced much success of their own, the couple says their biggest achievement has been their ability to create jobs for others who have been forced to migrate into the city, giving neighbors the same chance they received in their time of need.

Want to help people like Federico by starting your own business? Join One Hen’s Pledge Your Profit Campaign and read more about how microfinance has helped millions of people improve their lives.