Different types of impacts to local communities
Some ocean startups not only contribute to a more sustainable ocean, but they also contribute to local communities. There are different ways to approach a positive impact on a community from a for-profit perspective business or startup.
- Understand what it means to be human: Startups don’t need to become part of the circus that celebrates profits over people, and unrelenting growth over real human consequences. Values-based companies are thriving in times like these. Their culture and mission enable them to adapt to what’s most important now.
- Impactful business change human behavior at scale: Changing behaviors at scale can no longer be about solely improving an individual’s life, but also our impact on the planet and society at large. If we do it correctly, sustainable growth becomes a consequence, and profits can be reinvested into the mission.
- To create positive behaviors, act responsibly
- Design your business with thoughtfulness: We need to imagine the unintended consequences our products might have through the process of how we design them. A human and planet-centered approach is needed more than ever during these turbulent and uncertain times.
We categorize them into three groups of impacts:
Fabricating local goods: Supervising local manufacturing has its benefits for the environment, management, and local population. Managing different local suppliers makes things more manageable and communication is usually easier and more effective. Working closely with local suppliers we can understand better what is expected from them and that each supplier shares the same principles. When running a purpose-driven business, all suppliers are expected to conduct their business:
- In an ethical manner with integrity
- To protect the human rights of their employees and treat them with dignity and respect
- To provide a safe and healthy working environment
- To operate in an environmentally responsible and efficient manner
- Facilitate compliance with all laws applicable
- Promote continuous improvement with respect to the expectations of the Supplier Code of Conduct.
Creating jobs in local or impoverished areas: Obviously, every startup creates jobs but for the sake of the purpose of this article, we try to focus on areas where opportunities are slim or where governments often abandon their people. With the rise of e-commerce, many ocean startups sell far away from where the idea originated and where they source their products or sell their services as a force of good. Increasing the local economy means creating more jobs to encourage more people to stay in the area, encourage a love for their habitat and increase awareness for the environment. This not only allows people to work closer to home, but also improves the quality of life for the community by increasing local revenue, creating a more self-sustainable community, and connecting the community together.
Raising awareness where there is a lack of education. Hiring locals for clean ocean movements, for example helps advance in the mission to end the ocean plastic crisis by raising awareness about plastic pollution, teaching their children and families how to reduce their plastic footprint and live a more ocean-minded lifestyle. To influence communities, fishermen, youth, policies, structures and systems in order to bring change in the way marine species are viewed by locals and persuading all stakeholders to act in more just and equitable ways toward them. At the core, it is about building relationships. It is about tackling the root causes of poverty which endangers the marine species and promoting their protection in coastal areas.
8 Examples of Ocean e-commerce startups that empower communities
In this section, we going to look at the different purposes and missions of some e-commerce startups that produce a local impact in a certain way.
Mamiwata is a brand born with the idea of helping local communities in Africa, develop African coastal tourism and promote ocean sustainability in the continent. They design and manufacture their products in African countries to create jobs, build skills and grow economies. They work in a partnership with Waves for Change who teach 1000 African kids a day how to surf through their programs and projects. They have a physical store in South African and their products can be seen in other regions of the world like North America and Europe.
Bureo keeps the most harmful form of plastic pollution, fishing nets, from entering our oceans. In many cases, the problem is not the local fishermen but rather the lack of infrastructure available for when the nets meet their end of life. They work together with local fisheries and communities to provide an incentivized program to collect, clean, sort and recycle fishing nets, creating positive solutions for end-of-use fishing nets, employment opportunities for local workers, and funding for community programs
4 Ocean funds their global ocean cleanup operation by offering sustainable and reusable products that raise awareness about the ocean plastic crisis and empower people to end their reliance on single-use plastic. So every time someones shop 4ocean and pull a pound of trash. 4ocean has more than 600 employees worldwide with operations in Florida, Indonesia, Haiti and Guatemala. Their popular bracelets made of recycled materials and are made by +350 local artisans in Indonesia. Their beach and river clean-up operations in Indonesia, Haiti and Guatemala are usually operated by local fishermen. This creates a different relationship with the ocean to the one they used to have when they were just plain fishermen.
Emerge Sea is a Peruvian Ocean lifestyle brand dedicated to the creation of sustainable and slow fashion. All their pieces are made of 100% recycled material, from waste found in the seas, and are 100% recyclable. They work with small local artisans who receive fair treatment and payment. Our brand is inspired by the depths of the ocean and the mysticism that surrounds the deepest part of the sea.
Faherty is an established high-quality, sustainably-minded brand for beach feel-good consumers. They prioritize sustainable fibers like organic cotton, ethically sourced cashmere, recycled polyester, linen, and hemp. They strive to use non-toxic dyes and water-efficient processes. Currently, 10% of their sales from all of their Native-inspired prints are donated to organizations supporting Native communities.
KAMPOS is a fashion brand that blends luxury and sustainability. They stand for a clear vision, a message of hope, integrity and change and they take actions to tackle issues threatening the existence of the oceans. They use 100% sustainable and recyclable materials, and we produce high-quality pieces entirely made in Italy. They aim at raising awareness of overfishing and marine pollution and they offer consumers unique pieces that are made of recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets or sustainable and organic fabrics. Every product supports their mission and includes information to educate consumers about their collective role in sustainability across the globe. They have a 4 step process which they claim to be all 100% in Italy, from collecting recycled plastic bottles, compressing the bottles, transformation into a polymer material, and design.
Salty Bird is an independent, women-owned surf brand, curating versatile designs and figure-flattering styles for all body types. Made with durable and sustainably sourced fabrics, Salty Bird’s signature pieces are born of our surf-inspired devotion to style, quality, form and functionality – in the sea and on the shore. They source Eco-Friendly Fabrics that are using regenerated or recycled. Their production in Bali, Indonesia is a one-stop manufacturing team, where products are produced in a fair-wage factory known for its safe, high-standard working conditions.
Waterwall is a social startup that intercepts plastic from the oceans and transforms it into high-quality, functional products for adventure and ‘symbols for change’. Eyewear, knives and other equipment are some of the products that you see on their online store. Waterhaul’s mission is to remove debris from our ocean and coastline, divert waste nets from landfilling, expand recycling capacity and demonstrate alternative solutions to the problem. Waterhall works extensively with local communities in Europe. such Iberian fishermen to provide an alternative to landfill or abandonment through incentivizing net amnesty programs and aim to expand this further. Providing free net collection facilities enables a better deal for everyone and reduces the likelihood of nets discarded in the ocean.