In 2016, Stacey Boyd ’91 was visiting a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, when she reached into her bag for her phone to snap a picture. Around her was a group of refugee girls, all of whom had received an education through a program sponsored by the British telecommunications company Vodafone. They had gathered to meet Nobel Peace Prize winner and education activist Malala Yousafzai.
“In that moment, two things immediately came to mind,” Boyd recalls. “First, talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not. Second, a fraction of the cost of my bag could have sent one of those girls to school for a year.”
These insights led Boyd to create Olivela, an online designer fashion and beauty retailer that combines the power of business with philanthropy. Twenty percent of its proceeds goes to one of many partner children’s charities, including the Malala Fund, CARE, No Kid Hungry, and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. To date, Olivela has “purchased” the equivalent of 700,000 days of school for underprivileged children.
Boyd credits her past business and education ventures for Olivela’s success. After spending time as an educator, graduate student, and founder of a software management company, she created Schoola, an online retailer similar in concept to Olivela: parents could send in gently used clothing where it would be put up for sale, with a significant portion of the proceeds going to a school of the donor’s choice.
Read about other alumni who are making an impact in their professions and communities throughout the world.
“I think the most powerful part of Olivela is its conscious capitalism,” she explains. “If you are going to buy a beautiful bag or pair of shoes, and you can buy it online at a handful of places, why wouldn’t you buy it on a platform for the very same price that allows you to change the life of a girl or support another cause important to you like climate change or kids’ health?
“Turning everyday actions into a force for good can be powerful,” she says.