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Giva Salutes: Warby Parker

Warby Parker

At Giva we search for organizations, large and small, that are doing a great job of changing the world around them for the better; and we are pleased to salute them here.

B Corporations, for-profit corporate entities that pledge to achieve social goals, are taking the world of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by storm. As of June 2015, there are 1,304 certified B Corporations across 121 industries in 41 countries and these numbers continue to rise. B Corporations, or "B Corps" for short, are generally committed to a specific social mission that is incorporated into their business model right from the get-go or at any stage in their growth. Just as LEED Buildings are held to certain standards, B Corps are regularly certified by a nonprofit called "B Lab" to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Such designation as a B Corp is becoming increasingly sought after as it distinguishes between companies with verifiably superior CSR strategies and those who are lagging behind. In this post, Giva shines the spotlight on a leading member of the B Corp community—Warby Parker.

Founded in 2012, the trendy eye wear manufacturer brings high-quality, vintage-inspired frames to customers at a significantly lower price than conventional vendors. And while the company has typically been recognized for its cost-friendly frames, outstanding customer service, and innovative business model, the true success of Warby Parker lies in its commitment to the B Corp mission of creating positive social impact. Similar to TOMS Shoes' One for One concept, Warby Parker was founded on the principle of Buy a Pair, Give a Pair; for every pair of Warby Parker glasses purchased, a pair is distributed to someone in need.

Unlike the One for One concept, however, glasses are not 'donated' in a traditional sense. Rather, the company funds the production of a pair of glasses for a non-profit organization called VisionSpring. VisionSpring then supplies the glasses to low-income entrepreneurs in developing countries and trains them how to administer eye exams and sell the glasses to their community. As a result, the local entrepreneurs are able to earn a sustainable livelihood while also providing members of their community with access to affordable, high-quality eye wear.

The Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program is making enormous strides. To date, the company has distributed more than one million pairs of eyeglasses to those in need. Considering that a simple pair of glasses can increase an individual's productivity by 35% and monthly income by 20%, this is a huge achievement.

Warby Parker is also working to become eco-friendly in its operations. Both the company's production and distribution are 100% carbon neutral. In fact, Warby Parker is one of few carbon-neutral eye wear brands in the world. The company has even mapped out all of its greenhouse gas emissions at every point in the production process—from the making of each frame to the office work—and has purchased carbon offsets accordingly.

Giva salutes Warby Parker for its efforts to achieve environmental sustainability and for all the work it has done to create economic development and productivity in underprivileged communities across the globe by empowering micro-entrepreneurs and improving access to an often-overlooked public health need.