For many, a trip to China is a chance to experience a new culture and broaden horizons. For Hannah Davis, Clemson, a trip to the Jiangsu Province of Eastern China in 2009 turned out to be a life-changer. At 26 years old, Hannah is now the founder and president of BANGS Shoes, a social enterprise that connects ideology to shoes. “Founding and operating a business was never on my list of things to do,” says Hannah. “I have a degree in political science with a minor in Mandarin, but my passion resides with the potential for individual action to positively impact society. Running BANGS fits my passion perfectly.”
After spending time in China, Hannah began to see life differently. “I felt so lucky to be born in the United States,” says Hannah. “I had access to plumbing and heating–things that most Americans consider basic necessities. Seeing how people were living in other countries was eye-opening.” Not wanting to forget that important lesson, Hannah got to work on BANGS.
Development for BANGS began around the same time that brands like Livestrong and TOMS were connecting positivity to consumer products. The name BANGS comes from the Chinese character for help, spelled b-a-n-g, which represents BANGS’ business model: 20 percent of net profits are given to people through BANGS’ nonprofit partner,
Kiva, to help start businesses.
“I noticed there were two schools of thought when it came to nonprofits … organizations that focus on immediate relief and ones that focus on sustainable methods of development,” says Hannah. She chose to focus on sustainable development and created a business plan to support it. A year later, BANGS hit the market.
Now, Hannah is making strides to change the world. At the core, BANGS works to continue inspiring a generation of leaders to take action with a focus on eliminating poverty, such as building a well to provide fresh water. In the short term, Hannah is looking to the stars. “A goal of mine is to be on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Of course, being on a ‘Top 30 under 30’ list wouldn’t be bad either.”
“BANGS provides tools that help people pull themselves out of poverty,” says Hannah. “The goal is to have a long-term impact and help communities stand on their own two feet.” The only question from Hannah is: “Will you stand with us?”
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