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Aussie enterprise i=Change powering philanthropy in retail

Australian social enterprise, i=Change, has built an online platform to encourage retailers to integrate philanthropy into their e-commerce platforms.

Jeremy Meltzer, founder of i=Change, wanted to incorporate a charitable component into his family’s business, Yellingbo olive oil, while also improving the overall customer experience for consumers donating to brands.

Instead of asking consumers to donate to a charity after completing an online purchase, i=Change flipped the model, notifying customers that $1 from the online purchase they just made will be donated to charity and they can choose where to send the donation.

Consumers can top up the value of the donation out of their own pockets, using the pre-saved credit card details, and share their donation on social media.

Meltzer started developing i=Change in 2013 and partnered with shoe retailer, Nine West in 2014, to help build it into a wider ecosystem for other brands to plug into their e-commerce platforms.  

“We were fortunate early on, I made contact with Jaki Lew (chairwoman of Nine West) and she loved the idea and they’ve been really instrumental and a fantastic initial partner to help us refine this and improve it,” Meltzer said.  

Over the last three years the social enterprise has been developing the user experience and working on driving as much value as possible back to the brand, Meltzer said.

Brands already using the platform include Nine West, homewares and stationery brand Cristina Re, and fashion labels Ester, Fabrik Store and Francesa.

“It has become a powerful tool for brands now to give back as they are increasingly aware that customers want to support brands that give back,” Meltzer said.  

“We’ve built this plug and play ecosystem for them to be able to do so, and receive the marketing benefits.”

Brands on the platform have access to more content, moving a marketing conversation away from products to the impact of donation on people’s lives, Meltzer said.  

“The for profit and not-for-profit sectors have lived very separately and there is now these really exciting hybrid business models that are adding enormous value to both,” Meltzer said.  

“It’s business for purpose… there’s a lot happening in this space and ultimately pointing towards the same drivers, consumers want to emotionally engage and feel their purchase is actually making a difference.

“I think there is an enormous gap between what consumers, especially millennials, are asking businesses to do and what brands are doing.” 

Meltzer said the start-up is now focused on scaling the social enterprise and managing growth, with the aim of cracking the US market.

“We’ve had interest from some US brands already, so we are speaking with them.”

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