Editor’s note: This is a two-part series in which we share the stories of both employees who give time and money, and the grantees with whom we partner, to spotlight the people who fuel the eBay Foundation’s giving efforts.
eBay employees care deeply about the communities in which they live and work, and their active participation in employee-led grantmaking reflects that. This past summer, employees helped decide where to give $3 million in grants through the eBay Foundation to support an array of entrepreneurs — as part of the nearly $15 million in giving overall that the Foundation has committed during the pandemic to nonprofits and organizations globally. Called Global Give: Rapid Response, this employee-led annual program was adapted in response to the tremendous challenges entrepreneurs are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to simply address the critical needs of small businesses quickly.
Amid the pandemic, small businesses and entrepreneurs are struggling to survive and rebuild — and this is especially the case in traditionally untapped communities, including Black, Indigenous, People of Color, women and refugees. Our central purpose as a company is to empower people and create opportunity for all, and core to our beliefs is that eBay is for everyone and all are welcome. Our partnerships with nonprofits helps us realize that purpose. Through this year’s Global Give: Rapid Response, over 16,000 votes from our global team helped determine funding to 53 nonprofits in 18 countries and advance inclusive entrepreneurship around the world.
“Through the support of our employees, eBay is able to help build economically vibrant and thriving communities,” said Allie Ottoboni, eBay Foundation President. “We are proud to work with our nonprofit partners to provide relief and create resiliency for small businesses everywhere, especially during this difficult time.”
Here are stories from two of our incredible nonprofit partners and recipients of Global Give grants.
Partnering for Broader Success
As a grassroots organization, the Parkdale Centre for Innovation listens to its community as it shapes its programs to suit their needs. Supporting entrepreneurs as they start and grow their businesses, the Toronto-based nonprofit focuses on inclusion and equity, helping break barriers to success for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), women, refugees and newcomers. “Entrepreneurs who take Parkdale Centre programs are often proximate to the challenges they’re looking to solve in their own communities,” said Rusul Alrubail, Founder and Executive Director of the center.
In a now-common refrain, this past March changed everything when the pandemic hit and in-person events became impossible. Though there were some initial challenges, the center was able to quickly transition online since much of their work already ran on team-based software. The center was in the midst of moving to an integrated online platform, where entrepreneurs could access incubator programs and join regional community hubs throughout Canada. These opportunities allowed local startups to connect directly with mentors and partners such as eBay — who was already partnering with the center to help deliver subject matter workshops to small businesses.
“COVID-19 just expedited the need and urgency,” said Rusul of the Canadainnovates.org platform the center plans to launch in 2021. “We’re excited to work closely with partners like eBay and the City of Toronto to expand our reach and create an accessible approach to economic development, supporting entrepreneurs during this uncertain and isolating time. These community-led initiatives are essential as we rebuild our economies around sustainable local networks.”
Rusul spotlighted Zenon Step as a noteworthy example of someone who’s helping to rebuild their community. An on-going participant in the center’s incubator programs, Zenon created Near Me, a socially conscious startup and website that connects small businesses in their local community to new customers through cost-saving discounts and deals. “They’re modeling what local innovation should look like, and we’re proud to support their work,” Rusul said.
Indeed, Rusul sees the recipe for future success within these partnerships between the center, local innovators and funders such as eBay. “I’m delighted that eBay believes in our mission and sees the impact we’re making for underrepresented entrepreneurs in Toronto and beyond,” she said. “Having a shared vision with partners is key and the right stepping stone to building back a better and more inclusive economy as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Creating a Bright New Future
Located in Sydney, Australia, nonprofit pre-accelerator Catalysr inspires, enables and connects migrant and refugee entrepreneurs (aka “migrapreneurs”) to launch their own high-tech startups in Australia. This group of small business owners has become a productive sector at many levels, working to build a better life for themselves as they also help create a better Australia.
“Migrants in Australia actively create jobs and wealth for themselves and others in their new communities,” said Usman Iftikhar, Co-Founder and CEO of Catalysr. According to Catalysr, over a third of small businesses (more than 600,000) in Australia are owned by people born overseas, providing employment to 1.4 million people.
With months-long programs that integrate mentoring, master classes, community events and networking opportunities, and investor pitch meetings, Catalysr supports migrapraneurs in realizing their business dreams. Since 2016, the nonprofit has helped nearly 400 migrants start more than 150 businesses — such as Spiral Blue, a space technology company whose prototype is set to launch on SpaceX Falcon 9 this January — and hosts a podcast called Migrapraneur Stories that shines a light on past alumni and their journeys.
This year, however, provided new challenges along with a whole set of opportunities for the nonprofit with the arrival of the pandemic. Without the need for migrapraneurs to meet in person, Catalysr now has the ability to reframe its programming at a national level. “Our program, like many others, was thrusted firmly into the online sphere,” Usman said. “While it was an adjustment, it was one that enabled us to scale and service all of Australia, where we had only operated in New South Wales and Victoria prior.”
Leveling the playing field in this way has brought new people to the entrepreneurial table. Usman highlights The Good Good as a perfect such example. The brainchild of a Catalysr migrapraneur, The Good Good is a social enterprise that sells organic and sustainable tea — and donates half of their profits to fund access to education for children in underserved communities throughout Australia.
Next year, Usman says the eBay funds will help support 200 more migrapraneurs across Australia, as well as providing benefits to help grow the organization at an even loftier level. “A partnership with eBay is an encouraging vote of confidence and endorsement of our work,” Usman said. “eBay’s backing will help us to attract talent into our community and propel our startups into the global spotlight.”
Learn more about our mission and impact work at ebayinc.com/impact.