Inspired by Toms, Israeli Startup Pairs Socially Conscious Consumers and Merchants

Will online shopping be even more gratifying if you know your purchases double as donations?

"Imagine a better world, a world where buying products made something good happen. That's the vision behind BOGO, a new Israeli social enterprise and online shopping hub. The name is an acronym for Buy One, Give One. For every item purchased, the merchant makes a contribution to a non-profit organization chosen by the customer from a list of available options.

Among the charitable causes is an Israeli organization called Box of Dreams, which helps needy children. Others possibilities include Al-Sam, which helps young people combat substance abuse; Beit Hashanti, a shelter for street children; and Let The Animals Live, an animal welfare organization.

This is how the model works. If you purchase a meal at a participating restaurant, for example, you can then contribute a bowl of hot soup. Or, if you buy a designer wine rack, the designer will conduct a workshop for the charity of your choice. If you buy a mattress, one will be donated, and so forth.

"The idea came from a story we heard abroad about Toms Shoes, a company that donates a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair they sell, said BOGO founder Gil Kislyuk. "We thought it would be great to set up a social enterprise that would facilitate donating to the community and the environment, and to provide us a livelihood. So the idea came to bring together companies that are socially conscious, and that's how the website was born," continued Kislyuk.

If you were wondering how BOGO makes money from this arrangement, Kislyuk says that the merchant, the customer, and his website all benefit from the process. The merchant benefits from the exposure on his website before a sale is made, and once the customer makes the purchase, BOGO takes what Kislyuk called a "success commission."

The goal of BOGO, Kislyuk explains, is to create a community of consumers who prefer to shop knowing their purchases will also do good for the community. "We also want to provide a platform [and] an interesting, innovative point of sale for businesses and service providers that give a little something back to the community, each within their own field and within their own means."

The website has been online for two months on a trial basis. "We want to upgrade the buying experience and get in touch with people who have bought products, to learn from them how we can make the site more user friendly," Kislyuk says. "We are the first in the world to bring together and provide a platform for businesses prepared to give something back to the community."
 

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